protected species mitigation and licensing
Please get in touch if B.A.T. Ecological can help you and your project with any protected species licensing or mitigation / compensation design and implementation, including if you require experienced ecologists with bat, badger or great crested newt low impact / mitigation class licenses - email@example.com | +44 (0) 7870 157022.
There are two main types of licenses in the context of professional protected species work: survey licenses, which are issued for scientific (including research) and/or educational and/or conservation purposes, and mitigation licenses, which are often also referred to as development or derogation licenses. Both types of licence are issued by the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCB): Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.
Survey licenses are issued to suitably experienced ecologists to allow them to undertake activities that could harm or disturb protected species, and as such would normally be illegal, such as entering a known bat roost, catching great crested newts or handling dormice. Ecologists undergo training and peer review before they apply for a survey licence with two references from their trainers, and upon receipt of a licence they can then survey for this protected species according to the licence conditions.
Mitigation licenses are different to the above: they derogate (partially suppress) the law pertaining to protected species to allow certain development-related activities to proceed, such as disturbing a bat roost to renovate a building or building near a pond with great crested newts, but only providing strict criteria are satisfied first. A developer seeking a protected species licence must demonstrate that a) their proposals are in the public interest; b) that there is no alternative approach that avoids adverse impacts on the protected species or their habitats; and c) that any adverse impacts that there are on the protected species and / or their habitats will be adequately mitigated, and potentially also compensated for. It is primarily the latter of the above criteria where a suitably qualified consultant ecologist is required; an experienced ecological consultant will provide up-to-date and robust guidance to a developer regarding the potential constraints that protected species could pose to their project, including whether a development licence will be required and what survey information will be needed to support the application for it. A good ecologist will also be fully mindful of what could potentially harm the protected species and how best to mitigate for this.
It may be that protected species are discovered on your site but in low numbers. If so, Natural England has recently introduced ‘low impact’ mitigation licenses, which are much quicker to acquire by suitably experienced ecological consultants to help reduce the licensing burden for applicable projects. Such an ecologist will have already ‘earned recognition’ from Natural England that they are suitably skilled and experienced to hold one of these specialist licenses, which can be acquired for work affecting low numbers of bats, great crested newts, badgers or even water vole.
Probably the most widely used of these licenses is the Bat Mitigation Class Licence (formerly the Bat Low Impact Class Licence), which allows a Registered Consultant - only - to manage work that could result in the disturbance and capture of up to three of the seven most ‘common or widespread’ bat species and the damage or destruction of up to three of their ‘low conservation status roosts’ on a site to facilitate development. Correspondingly, the great crested newt low impact licence permits low impact work affecting this species, principally the damage or destruction of limited areas of terrestrial or linear aquatic habitat only. For the badger class licence Natural England also effectively trusts the previously accredited class licence holder to have collected all the correct information and decided on the most appropriate course of action if badger setts need to be disturbed (in a development context only) from 1 July to 30 November.
It is important to reiterate that these licenses only permit low impact or temporary work affecting certain protected species, which must be managed by the Registered Consultant who has been accredited by Natural England. In the case of European Protected Species the developer still needs to demonstrate that their proposals are in the public interest and that there is no alternative approach that avoids adverse any impact on the protected species.
With all of the above in mind, if you are planning a (re) development project, it is always best to engage with a good consultant ecologist in the early stages. This allows ecological issues to be considered at an early stage; within the timetable, the budget, and potentially also within the design. This therefore significantly reduces the likelihood of unwanted surprises and costs, or delays from missed survey windows.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the above, or you need help with any protected species surveys to inform mitigation / compensation design and implementation: firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0) 7870 157022.