Do I Need An Ecology Survey?

I’m Submitting a Planning Application – Will I Need To Do An Ecology Survey?

If your planning application is in the UK, the chances are that the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will request that you demonstrate whether you project will have impacts on biodiversity.

LPAs have a legal duty to pay ‘due regard’ to certain protected species when considering planning applications.  There are also national and local planning policies that require the protection of ecology and mitigation of harm. They are not able to consider the ecological impact of the project, unless they are supplied with relevant information from you.

Typically this is a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, and for projects where there are risks to important species and habitats, an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) may be needed (although to save time and money, we tend to roll these two reports into one for smaller schemes).

There are other reasons why you might want to complete an ecology survey.  As some species and habitats are also legally protected, your project may be at risk unless appropriate licences are in place to allow the works to go ahead lawfully.

For example, bats and their roosts are protected under the Habitat Regulations 2017 If your project will involve changing the roof of a building, or felling trees you could be at risk of harming bats or their roosts, which can carry a prison sentence.  By undertaking your due diligence, you can protect yourself from this kind of risk.  If bats are present, we can undertake surveys to find out how they use the site and apply for a licence on your behalf to allow the roost to be destroyed lawfully.

Another issue that an ecology appraisal will look out for is invasive species.  There are many species that are unlawful to cause their spread in the wild.  Some plants (for example Japanese knotweed) can easily be transported on excavator tracks.  Japanese knotweed can also be quite destructive and needs to be controlled appropriately before works begin on site.