Wharton offer ecological advice and analysis which is required by Local Planning Authorities for home improvement, development, master planning and restoration projects.
With our highly qualified team of Ecological Consultants, we would be happy to provide a quote and discuss your ecological project needs.
Wharton offer Preliminary Roost Assessments (also known as initial bat surveys) which are regularly requested by Local Planning Authorities when buildings are to be significantly altered or demolished.
Preliminary Roost Assessments (PRA)
This is the first step in identifying whether your property or land is suitable to support roosting bats, and indeed may identify whether are bats already present. A preliminary roost assessment involves:
1: An initial survey of the inside and outside of the building to check for suitable entry/exit point for bats, potential roost features and any evidence of the current or historic presence of bats.
2: A desk study, assessing the suitability of the local and wider area to support bats, and a records search to determine whether any known roosts have been recorded at the building, or in the immediate local area.
3: The results of the two surveys above are then evaluated to determine the suitability of the building for bats, and further surveys to establish the presence or likely absence of bats may be recommended
PRAs can be carried out throughout the year.
There are 18 species of Bats in the UK (though only 17 known to be breeding here), all of which are protected by European and UK Law and are consequentially a material consideration in the planning process.
Due to their variable activity patterns and hibernation over the late autumn and winter period, surveys to determine the presence (or likely absence) of summer roosts of bats are best carried out in the optimum period between May & August when bats are at their most active; though surveys can be carried out between April and September if weather conditions are good
Stage 1: We will discuss the specific requirements of your project and will provide you with a free no-obligation quote to undertake the surveys and produce the necessary reports.
Stage 2: Upon approval of the quote, a visit to the site is carried out to assess any buildings or trees at the site for their potential to support bats, and to determine whether bats are present by searching for evidence.
If no evidence of bats is found and/or the building is considered to have negligible suitability for bats, no further surveys are likely to be necessary and we will produce a report detailing the results of the survey and the requirement for no further surveys.
If evidence of bats is found, or if the building is considered to be suitable for bats, further surveys are likely to be required. The number and type of survey depends on the suitability of the building and whether any evidence of roosting bats has been found.
Stage 3: Upon completion of all bat surveys, a comprehensive report is written outlining the type of roost, ecological importance of the roost and surrounding habitat as well as any mitigation/compensation measures required.
Stage 4: Our report will be submitted alongside your planning application, to provide all of the supporting evidence your application needs in respect of bats.
Stage 5: The planning application and supporting bat report will be reviewed; and you will be notified of the decision.
Stage 6: On successful planning permission being granted for a structure known to support a bat roost, a European Protected Species (EPS) license may need to be applied for. Upon successful application and attainment of the EPS license, development can commence in adherence with wildlife law and legislation.
- These iconic animals are synonymous with the British countryside. Badger surveys aim to identify how badgers are using your land as well as the area surrounding it.
- This is done via the use of on-site inspections to look for any fresh evidence, and a range of methods are employed to determine the use of any setts by badgers.
- By carrying out these surveys we can ensure that any developments proceed in line with current UK good practice guidance and legislation.
Great Crested Newts (GCN)
Amphibians are vital components of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. If there are water bodies in the vicinity of your development, depending on the type of development proposed, an initial great crested newt survey may be recommended
Presence/Likely Absence Surveys
These are ‘traditional’ surveys and involve a total of four surveys of the pond by a licensed surveyor using a range of methods to determine whether great crested newts are present or likely to be absent from the pond. Surveys can be undertaken between mid-March and June and at least two surveys need to be completed between mid-April and mid-May. If great crested newts are found, a further two surveys will be required to determine the population size class.
Population Size Class Assessments
This involves six surveys using the same methods as presence/likely absence surveys and are only undertaken once great crested newts have been identified in order to determine the population size class that the population of great crested newts in the pond falls into (low, medium or large). At least three surveys must be undertaken within the optimum period of mid-April to mid-May
Environmental DNA (eDNA) Testing
This involves a licensed person taking water samples from pond(s) which are subsequently sent off for analysis at a laboratory to determine whether great crested newt DNA is present or absent. eDNA testing can be carried out between mid-April and the end of June which leaves little space within the survey window to assess population sizes if great crested newts are found. Consequently, eDNA is not suitable for all projects. However, eDNA surveys are suitable for:
- Large projects with long lead times: they can be undertaken a year in advance to scope in or out, large numbers of waterbodies with potentially considerable savings to the developer
- Temporary and low impact developments that may only require presence or absence surveys
- Small projects with limited risk of great crested newt presence.
- Reptiles in the UK are protected under legislation and two species, the sand lizard and smooth snake are afforded protection under European legislation. The potential presence of reptiles are a material consideration in the planning process and their presence (or likely absence) must be established prior to the determination of the planning application
- Reptile surveys involve laying suitable artificial refuges on site where reptiles will bask under and checking these refuges on several occasions to check for the presence of reptiles.
- If no reptiles are found, we will produce a report detailing this which can be submitted with the application to the planning authority. Usually no further works are subsequently recommended.
- If reptiles are present, we will continue surveys until an estimate of the population size can be reliably understood; this information will feed in to an appropriate mitigation strategy which will be submitted with the planning application.
- Upon granting of permission on a site with reptiles, a capture and translocation exercise is usually required to ensure sufficient effort is employed to avoid harm to reptiles in line with legislation. Should European protected species be present, a mitigation licence from Natural England will likely be required.
- The European otter is a European protected species as well as being fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This legislation makes it an offence to kill, injure, capture or disturb otters, or to damage or destroy their habitats.
- Surveys carried out will illustrate how otters and water voles are present and currently using the Site, and what (if any) mitigation measures can be employed to minimise impact to their sites.
- Should there be a watercourse at or near to a development site, an otter survey should be carried out to assess it’s potential to support otters.
- Otter surveys can be carried out at any time of the year, although best carried out when bankside vegetation is low, when evidence is easier to find. Evidence of otters includes dung (spraints), footprints, feeding remains, slides into water, underground dens (holts) and above ground resting sites (couches).
- For sites where otters and confirmed to be present, suitable mitigation, avoidance or compensation measures may need to be provided to ensure no negative impacts upon otters locally, in adherence with wildlife law and legislation
- Water voles are found in canals, slow-flowing rivers, streams, ditches, lakes, ponds, marshes and reed-beds; generally living in burrows that can extend up to 2m from the water’s edge. Where a watercourse is present at a site, an assessment for water voles should be carried out.
- Water vole surveys can be carried out between March and September, with two separate survey visits being required during this time. The potential habitat is assessed for its suitability to support water voles; and evidence of water vole presence (droppings, burrows, latrines, grazed lawns and foraging remains) is examined. An estimation of the probable population size is then made from these results.
- Should water voles be present at a site and expected to be affected or disturbed by a development, appropriate mitigation must be implemented to ensure lawful proceeding of works, as the water voles are legally protected from reckless disturbance under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
- It is important to understand the value of the site to bird populations be they wintering or breeding birds and if development will significantly affect the population or associated habitat
- Surveys can be carried out between March and July for breeding birds, November and February for Winter birds and August to October for Migrating birds.
- Surveys usually involve three visits to the site (an initial scoping visit followed by two survey visits) following the British Trust for Ornithology Territory Mapping Method to determine what birds are present at the Site, in what numbers and their breeding status at the site.
- Barn Owls are listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; thereby being offered an additional level of protection in addition to that offered to all other nesting birds.
- A barn owl survey includes an assessment of the structure for its suitability for barn owls and a detailed evaluation of any evidence of barn owl presence; such as droppings, pellets, feathers and eggs. The structure will then be assessed for its importance to barn owls in light of how it is being used as a roost or nest site.
- Should a barn owl nest or roost site be required to be disturbed, removed of destroyed as part of a development, appropriate mitigation must be designed and provided.
- We work in adherence to nationally-recognised guidelines, to offer barn owl mitigation solutions that ensure barn owls are not negatively affected by any development.
- The Dormouse population is in rapid decline due to habitat destruction including hedgerow and woodland removal and lack of appropriate habitat management.
- Various survey methods are employed to detect the presence of this European Protected Species including nut searches (Dormice leave distinct tooth marks on eaten nuts) and nest tube checks.
- Nest tube checks have to be carried out over several months (April to November), reflecting the life-cycle of the dormouse and usually requires the installation of artificial nest boxes or tubes in woodland and hedgerows
White-clawed Crayfish Surveys
- Our only native freshwater crayfish is under significant decline, primarily due to the introduction of the North American Signal crayfish, (carriers of the ‘crayfish plague’) and agricultural practices amongst others. It is protected under both UK and European legislation.
- During the survey season (optimal from July to October) the presence of white-clawed crayfish will be determined through setting traps under license and determining whether any adverse effects are likely as a result of the proposed works/development which require mitigation.
Associated case studies:
Coventry University / Priory Hall: PRA, Roost Characterisation, Protected Species Licence application and Nesting Birds Assessment