New Office in Cambridge

We are really proud to announce that our second office is now open in Cambridge.  It has been a long time coming, especially for our until-now homeworking senior ecologist Hayley Farmell.

We’ve got a lovely site in a rural location just west of Cambridge (in Knapwell), with nice easy access to the A14 and M1 to service our clients across the south east, London and east anglia.


We’ve Moved!

This is just a quick update to announce that our Central office has moved from Belper to Cromford in Derbyshire.

Although we didn’t want to leave Belper (three of us live there, and two could walk to work), we outgrew the office and it wasn’t really fit for purpose for an ecology consultancy – lugging great crested newt traps up two flights of stairs for each survey was never fun!

The new office, which is part of the Arkwright’s Mill complex, means that we are set for our future growth; we have spare desk space, a decent break out area, a private meeting room, outside and inside storage and parking (which seems to be as rare as bat eggs at the moment).

Our new address is Prime Environment, Carriage House, Mill Road, Cromford, DE4 3RQ.

We  look forward to meeting you here.

Jo Pedder



We are recruiting – Seasonal Ecologists


Prime Environment are seeking experienced ecologists in the Midlands for a 5 /6 month contract starting in March.  You will principally be working away from the office on a single, large, infrastructure scheme (HS2), potentially also supporting us on other projects across the UK. You will have 2 or more years’ survey experience, ideally having worked on similar projects. You will hold a GCN licence and have experience with bat and badger surveys.

You will be a highly motivated individual, able to work at a very high standard in a hard-working but supportive company, where collaboration is encouraged and where having happy staff is seen as a sign of success.

There will be opportunities for you to continue your CPD through “on the job” training and paid external training courses where relevant; even on short term contracts we expect staff to leave us more employable than when they started – there may also be an opportunity for this to lead to a permanent position.

Salary dependent on experience.

To apply for the position, email your CV here.

Derby Museum – Notice Nature, Feel Joy

Prime Environment’s Directors paid a visit to Derby Museum late in 2016. We were impressed by the new natural history display – Notice Nature, Feel Joy and were delighted to have the opportunity to show our support with a small donation from the company.

Well curated galleries and collections like this are an excellent opportunity to engage the public, and especially children, in ecology and conservation.  To some, a collection of skeletons and stuffed animals is a morbid prospect; but I challenge anyone with this view to spend an hour here (or any other local natural history museum) with an open mind and not leave in awe of the beauty and variety of the natural world.

In recognition of our donation, we’ve had a lovely little decal (the puffin pictured) put up in the stairwell.  There are many other local names here too – individual visitors, other local Derby businesses like Rolls Royce and even Spring Watch’s Michaela Strachan.

We are looking for a charity to support close to our Cambridge office in the near future.



Merry Christmas

I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to our wonderful clients, colleagues and friends for your support over the year.

It has been a great year for us at Prime; we’ve been privileged to get involved in some amazing ecology and arboriculture projects and work with fantastic people.

So on behalf of the team here, we wish you a very merry Christmas and we hope that 2017 is happy and prosperous.

We are recruiting – Senior Ecologist

Prime Environment, a family owned ecology consultancy with bases in Derby and Cambridge, are looking to recruit a Senior Ecologist to join the Midlands office.

Working in collaboration with the Directors, you will deliver field work, reporting and client management in the Midlands and North. You will be responsible for managing clients and their projects, keeping to budget and managing subcontractors. You will be encouraged to contribute ideas and innovation to improve the quality of our technical output and improve the efficiency of our work.

You will have at least four years’ experience in consultancy, will have good technical skills (surveying, concise technical writing, tendering, communication) and experience in EIA, planning applications, licencing and mitigation.

You will be a highly motivated individual, able to work at a very high standard, in a hard-working but supportive environment, where collaboration is encouraged and where having happy staff is seen as a sign of success.

To apply for the position, email your CV here.

We are recruiting – Principal Ecologist

Prime Environment, a family owned ecology consultancy with bases in Derby and Cambridge, are recruiting a Principal Ecologist to lead the delivery of our services in the South East.

Working with the directors and the existing senior ecologist, you will develop and grow our team in the region. You will be responsible for the technical output of the office. You will undertake surveys, manage projects and client relationships, support your staff and report KPIs to the directors. You will be expected to contribute creative ideas and innovation to improve the quality of our technical output, the efficiency of our work and the wellbeing of our staff.

You will have at least seven years’ experience in consultancy, good technical skills (surveying, concise technical writing, tendering, communication) and a wealth of experience in EIA, planning applications, licencing and mitigation.  You will also have experience of managing a team and developing and mentoring staff.  You will be a highly motivated individual, able to inspire colleagues in a hard-working and supportive environment where collaboration is encouraged and where having happy staff is seen as a sign of success.

To apply for the position, email your CV here.

Prime Environment – a Carbon Neutral Company!

Going Carbon Neutral

Since the earliest days of Prime Environment we have been talking about “going carbon neutral”. It felt like the right thing to do for the company and for the planet and in October we decided the time was right. But how to do it? An extensive internet search and several phone calls later I had established that the Carbon Neutral industry is a huge and complex minefield of dubious projects, pushy salespeople and vague investment pledges. I did, however, find several excellent carbon footprint calculators (carbonfootprintcarbon-target  and climatecare  are just three of the hundreds available). Calculating the business’ footprint was a useful exercise in itself, we have a large array of solar panels on the roof of our premises which does wonders for our electricity bills, but our diesel consumption, essential for undertaking wide-ranging ecology surveys  is extensive. Eventually I arrived at a figure of 9 tonnes of carbon for our annual footprint. That is almost certainly an overestimate but we decided to err on the side of caution.

By this time my tentative enquiries had resulted in my phone number ending up on the “warm leads” lists of several huge multinational carbon offset organisations. The phone was ringing hourly and the sales patter was full of puff and no substance. I wanted to know exactly where the money would go and exactly how carbon capture was being achieved by those projects. They wanted to tell me how the accolade “Carbon Neutral since 2013” could benefit my business. I admit that from a marketing point of view carbon neutrality is very attractive – all the cool young start-ups are doing it! But we felt strongly that this wasn’t all about the kudos, we really wanted to do the right thing. We decided to flip our perspective and start again. If we could find projects of ecological value, where carbon sequestration was a measurable guarantee and it was a benefit to biodoversity, maybe we could invest and become carbon neutral almost as a by-product of our investment. It felt like a daunting prospect until a contact on LinkedIn mentioned Saving Species.

It was a revelation! Here was a company funding transparent, scientifically based conservation projects, worldwide. They aim to conserve biodiversity by identifying the most at-risk areas in the world and then helping local organizations raise funds to connect, protect and restore habitats. They find and buy strategically chosen pieces of degraded land, and restore them into rich, biodiverse habitats, soaking up carbon from the atmosphere and help endangered species at the same time. They work with NGOs to ensure the local communities are involved and engaged and they do not siphon off donations for expenses. All donated funds go directly to projects, which are tracked by satellite photos, enabling us to see the actual impact of our contributions. Perfect!

One of my favourite Saving Species projects at the moment is their efforts to protect the recently discovered Olinguito. Read more here.

Baby Olinguito – a new mammal to science and now discovered on SavingSpecies reserves


Based on calculations of how much carbon is sequestered in the forests that they restore over time, we calculated that, to offset our 9 tonnes of carbon for the next year (2014) we would need to fund SavingSpecies to protect and restore 1.8 hectares of tropical forest.

The money was transferred and we are now officially Carbon Neutral!

We are really looking forward to seeing our money used to benefit biodiversity and local economies in impoverished parts of the world.


What is a Biodiversity Checklist

I received an enquiry today from a client who had been asked to complete a Biodiversity Checklist to support a planning application.

He explained that having been asked to complete the Biodiversity Checklist he had found it difficult to find information that would assist him, so I thought I would write this article to help others in the same situation.

Why would you need to complete a Biodiversity Checklist?

Local Authorities have a duty to protect and conserve biodiversity in all of their functions, which includes determining planning applications.

The purpose of a Biodiversity Checklist is to quickly identify whether it is likely that the proposed development site includes those important habitats and species that need to be protected and conserved.

In particular, Councils are required to have ‘due regard’ to European protected species (like all bats, great crested newt and dormouse) and need a paper trail to show that applications have been fully considered, which helps to avoid appeals or legal challenges.

As part of 1APP (the National Application Form), the submission of a biodiversity survey and report will be listed in the Local Planning Application requirements and is a requirement for validation of the application.

Biodiversity Checklists serve to allow the Planning Authority to demonstrate that biodiversity has been considered by the applicant and themselves, without putting expense on applicants as the Biodiversity Checklist can be completed without engaging an ecology consultant. In many cases the checklist will be sufficient for the application, without a paid ecology survey.

What is a Biodiversity Checklist?

Each local authority has its own local Biodiversity Checklist. These are usually either a questionnaire or a tick box list which aims to identify whether any further investigation by a professional ecologist is required.

They usually pose questions such as ‘is there a pond within 250 m of the site?’ or does the project involve demolition of a pre-1960’s building within 200 m of woodland?’ They are by their nature very broad brush* and are likely to not identify many sites that do have protected species and many more sites that don’t support protected species will be highlighted for additional survey.

Some also request confirmation as to whether the site is near to a designated wildlife site. You can find out if a site is designated using the free Multi Agency Geographic Information Centre (MAGIC):

1) Visit MAGIC.

2) Click ‘get started’ and agree the terms of use.

3) Find your site using the map search (top left box) and the drop down menu to choose between search types (i.e. for OS grid reference or town name).

4) Tick the ‘designations’ and then land based designations boxes under ‘table of contents’ and uncheck the two boxes relating to history.

5) You can then just visually look for designations, or use the feature tool ‘Site Check’ to search for designations within a certain radius of your site.

Here is the output for a search near Heath and Reach woods (just for demonstration, there’s no development that I’m aware of).

Biodiversity Checklist

The outcome of the Biodiversity Checklist may be that further information is required to support your planning application. This might be a Phase 1 Habitat Survey (sometimes called an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey or a Biodiversity Survey) or perhaps an assessment for a specific animal or group, like a bat survey or great crested newt survey.

I am always happy to help and give phone and email advice at no charge, so if you need to fill in a Biodiversity Checklist and you get stuck, feel free to get in touch.

Jo Pedder, Director



Bat Surveys in 2013

So far this year Prime Environment have surveyed over 500 ha of sites for bats using a variety of techniques including dusk and dawn surveys, transect surveys and our array of state of the art bat detecting equipment. Most of these have been over arable land, but with some interesting woodland sites, barns, residential houses and a Priory.

For this bat survey season we have invested heavily in long term monitoring equipment for bat surveys and have deployed up to five Song Meter SM2+ units for static bat activity surveys at sites in Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex and Kent.

These units allow us to gather huge levels of data on bat calls which allow a robust assessment of bat activity at sites such as wind farms and large scale housing sites.

We also work as specialist ecology subcontractors for other consultants to provide additional man-power and equipment for ecology surveys at large projects, or to just take over the whole survey and pass back data through the season.


More information about SM2s can be found here.

To get in touch with Prime Environment, contact us here.