If you’re looking to develop a piece of land, you’ll need to supply your local planning authority with a biodiversity survey report. This can also be called a preliminary ecological assessment or a (phase 1) habitat survey.
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What is a biodiversity survey?
More straight forward than it sounds, a biodiversity survey is generally the starting point. Its purpose is to provide a baseline overview of your land, identifying any features of conservation importance. This might be flora, fauna or wildlife habitats.
An experienced ecologist will then provide recommendations for avoiding impact, mitigation and post-development enhancement – all of which your planning department will be looking for. Any actions must also be in compliance with wildlife legislation and relevant planning policy.
Why is it required?
Under new planning laws, it’s a legal requirement to supply a biodiversity survey report. However, it will also enable you to progress your project more swiftly, with the correct ecological facts to hand. You can adjust your plans to accommodate any constraints and achieve planning permission more easily.
How is a biodiversity survey carried out?
When you engage an ecological consultancy such as Betts, our first task is to understand the context of your site, prior to a visit. To do this, we’ll access biological records searches and study the likely habitats around your land.
The next stage is a site visit. An experienced ecologist will complete a comprehensive walkover, noting key plant species, ecological features of interest (including water features) and evidence of wildlife habitat – particularly protected species. Within our report, you’ll be able to view a field map with this detail annotated.
The structure of our biodiversity survey has been developed in accordance with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and professional institutes.
The final stage of the survey is to make suitable recommendations for minimising impact, mitigation, and enhancement of ecological features. This will all be detailed in your final report and discussed with you. Some simple adjustments to your plans could make a significant difference to your ecological impact.
Your survey will be valid for two years from the date of the report.
When should my biodiversity survey be carried out?
We’d generally recommend that surveys such as these are completed during April to October. This is when species and habitats are more active.
Your location in the UK will determine the optimum timeframe and we can advise you when you call us.
What if a protected species is found?
It is possible that your biodiversity survey uncovers a protected species – perhaps bats or barn owls. This might mean further surveys are necessary to appease the planning authorities. We can help you with this.
The existence of a protected species does not generally prevent development. It does mean you’ll need to make provision for it. And the earlier you can plan this, the better.
For example, if bats are discovered, you might find that installing a number of bat roosting boxes is sufficient.
What will it cost?
Survey costs vary, dependent on the specific requirements. And it’s important to gain the right level of expert advice – for your planning application as well as for ecological reasons.
At Betts, our surveys start at just £350. Please get in touch and we’ll provide you with an all-inclusive quote.