ecological appraisals and impact assessment
Please get in touch if B.A.T. Ecological can help you and your project with an ecological constraints walkover, an ecological appraisal (including preliminary) or an ecological impact assessment - firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0) 7870 157022.
If you are seeking planning consent to (re)develop a site then you will usually need to a) identify whether and what ecological receptors are present; b) evaluate the importance of those that are present and what constraints they may pose to your plans; and c) assess the potential effects of your proposals on any notable habitats, species or ecosystems. Doing this properly enables Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to understand the likely impacts of your proposals on the biodiversity on and around your site so that they can reach a decision as to whether to issue you with planning consent. It also allows other influential consultees to comment on your proposals with full sight of all pertinent information.
If you are only applying to (re)develop or renovate buildings (and hard landscaped areas without ponds) then a bat survey by an experienced Natural England licensed ecologist (which should also highlight signs of other protected species such as nesting birds or barn owl) is usually sufficient to provide an ecological appraisal and impact assessment of your proposals for planning purposes. However, if you are planning to (re)develop any land parcels that could support natural or semi-natural habitat types with their own intrinsic ecological value and / or support a range of protected species (including bats and great crested newts) then it is advisable to have these ecological receptors and the possible effects on them thoroughly assessed.
An ecological constraints walkover by an experienced ecologist is a relatively speedy and inexpensive way to identify what ecological receptors could be present on a site, and therefore what further surveys are likely to be required to inform a more comprehensive appraisal or impact assessment. Often this can be a good way to understand the basics while keeping costs down, with the findings and recommendations provided promptly in an email.
A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) is a more detailed version of an ecological constraints walkover with the results provided in a formal PEA report. The Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) defines a PEA as ‘a rapid assessment of the ecological features present, or potentially present, within a site or the surrounding area (within the Zone of Influence for a proposed project). It normally comprises a desk study and a walkover survey, such as an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. A PEA can be undertaken in a variety of contexts, often as a preliminary assessment of likely impacts of a development project. It can help the project proposer and planning authority in scoping the subsequent EcIA or in concluding that ecological issues will not be significant in determining the application and no further survey work is required’. CIEEM provides technical guidance on undertaking and reporting on PEAs, which B.A.T. Ecological adheres to.
It is important to note that a PEA does not include any actual assessment of the impacts on a site’s ecological receptors - it only highlights what receptors are there and how they’re likely to be affected. An assessment of the likely significant ecological effects of a project, irrespective of the scale or type of project, is undertaken via a formal (and often more comprehensive) Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA), which is defined by CIEEM as ‘a process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating potential effects of development related or other proposed actions on habitats, species and ecosystems’. An EcIA report can be a standalone document or it can form part of a wider Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for larger projects, or those where impacts could extend to other receptors such as air or water quality. CIEEM also provides up-to-date (2018) guidance on undertaking and reporting on EcIA.
Somewhere in between a PEA and an EcIA is an ecological appraisal, which is usually a more bespoke approach suited to certain projects more than others, and so you should discuss the suitability of this with an experienced ecologist.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the above. B.A.T. Ecological can provide highly experienced field ecologists, and can help manage ecological constraints to your project: email@example.com | +44 (0) 7870 157022.