From the 7th January 2019 ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd welcomes another member to our team of ecologists. Luke Atherton is joining us with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Wildlife and Practical Conservation and an M.Sc. in Conservation Management. Luke has experience of Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, protected species surveys and has a keen interest in bat and bird ecology. Luke will be an asset to our team as we look forward to another interesting and busy year.
At our Christmas ramble and bird watch this year the ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd team was rewarded with a sighting of TWO bitterns at Marton Mere Nature Reserve, near Blackpool. A first for some of us and a rare and welcome sight for even the experienced birders on our team. We celebrated with a fab meal at The Eagle and Child, Weeton. Merry Christmas!
We love it when a plan comes together. After excavation of a new pond to enhance a site for amphibians and dragonflies, our on-going licensed monitoring surveys have detected both great crested newts and smooth newts.
The survey involves setting bottles around the pond margins in the evening and returning the following morning to check and empty the traps. Torchlight surveys can also be carried out after dark to view newts carrying out their courtship display and egg laying activities.
Following a careful search an egg (and many water mint plants with characteristic folded leaves) were found too.
The survey information will contribute to the evidence to be provided to Lancashire Environment Record Network to support the designation of the site as a Biological Heritage Site (a local non-statutory designation).
As part of our commitment to keeping up to date with new wildlife legislation, protocol, guidance, initiatives and best practice the ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd team of ecologists regularly attend webinars, short courses and conferences. Our ecologists have recently attended courses entitled ‘Advance Course in Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)’ and ‘Otter Ecology and Surveys’.
We’re due to attend a course on ‘Calculating and Using Biodiversity Units’ and also the annual CIEEM conference which is entitled ‘Nature of Buildings: Designing Effective Mitigation and Enhancement’ in Spring 2018.
As well as being enjoyable and a good opportunity to catch up with peers and contacts, these courses contribute to ensuring our team is fully up to speed with developments in our profession and also adds to our continuing professional development (CPD) record and targets.
In February 2018 we welcomed Chris Wilkinson to our ecologist team.
Chris successfully tackled our informal, but comprehensive, interview process and was appointed as Graduate Ecologist.
We welcome Chris to our team and look forward to involving him with our on-going and new projects.
Keen to get involved and expand on his current knowledge, in his first month, under the supervision of licensed Ecologists, Chris encountered a hibernating pipistrelle bat during a daylight bat survey, got to grips with surveys in accordance with The Hedgerows Regulations 1997, recorded badger sett activity in Cheshire and assisted with the translocation of adult great crested newts during the installation of newt exclusion fencing under a licensed mitigation scheme – phew!
Find out more about Chris and the rest of our team on our ‘Ecologist Team’ page.
Our team of ecologists has recently received important Health and Safety training in subjects such as Asbestos Awareness, Manual Handling, Risk Assessment, Working at Height and Ladder Safety.
In addition to remaining compliant with our own Health and Safety Policy and our SMAS Accreditation, this invaluable training and ‘top-up’ of knowledge and awareness enables our ecologists to carry out a comprehensive and thorough survey whilst taking appropriate actions to assess and minimise risk.
Our clients often ask for copies of our training certificates as evidence of receipt of relevant training. Please contact our team if you require this information.
In early October 2016 we welcomed the return of our Principal Ecologist, Victoria Burrows, from maternity leave. Victoria went on leave in October 2015 to have Sophie and little sister to Anna.
Victoria has kept in touch with the office throughout her leave but is now catching up on progress with on-going projects. She is very much looking forward to ‘getting stuck in’ with new schemes and ventures with both our existing loyal clients and new contacts.
In June 2016, ERAP Ltd’s Principal Ecologist, Victoria Burrows, became a Registered Consultant able to use the new Natural England Great Crested Newt Low Impact Class Licence (GCN LICL).
To achieve Registered Consultant status Victoria had to demonstrate to Natural England that she had the relevant qualifications, experience and understanding of great crested newt ecology and relevant mitigation projects. Victoria then attended a two day workshop / training course followed by an assessment.
The GCN LICL has been formulated by Natural England to provide a more streamlined, faster and less onerous approach to mitigation licensing in situations considered to be of low impact.
The licence overview states “This Class Licence gives ecological consultants, who are registered with Natural England to use this licence, the authority to undertake or to supervise certain activities which infringe the protection afforded to great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) at sites registered under it. Specifically, the licence permits great crested newts to be disturbed, to be caught and relocated to a safe place, and allows small areas of terrestrial habitat, used by great crested newts as a resting place, to be damaged or destroyed. It additionally permits temporary impacts in ditches, but not other aquatic habitats, for works on linear schemes.”
Examples when this licence may be applicable comprise temporary impacts, or negligible permanent impacts, affecting terrestrial habitats such as construction or installation of pipeline routes; boreholes and archaeological type works; installation of road signs and gantries, routine maintenance type works and small scale permanent habitat destruction.
The GCN LICL will only be applicable to certain projects. However, with our client’s interests as a priority, the ability to apply the GCN LICL route will always be considered to minimise any potential delays and constraints to ensure a positive outcome for both wildlife and our clients.
You may have heard the start of the dawn chorus signalling the start of the bird nesting season. We’d like to remind and advise our clients that the bird nesting season is typically recognised as March to August inclusive (although some bird species nest outside this period). It is an offence under wildlife legislation* to destroy the active nest of a wild bird.
Birds can nest in a variety of habitats such as trees, shrubs, hedgerows, buildings and on the ground. To avoid any delays as a result of the need to protect nesting birds, if any building demolition or vegetation removal is scheduled we would like to advise our clients to either: –
- Arrange for the removal of any suitable habitats for nesting birds before early March; and / or
- Where appropriate, install measures to prevent access by birds to facilitate removal at a later date.
If neither of these actions are possible we can carry out a nesting bird inspection prior to the commencement of site clearance or arboricultural works and provide appropriate guidance to ensure the law is not broken and best practice is applied.
*Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Victoria has now registered three sites under the BLICL (see Blog entry in May 2015). In all instances the confirmation from Natural England that the site has been successfully registered was received within 10 working days of the application. This approach has facilitated the timely demolition of buildings and the less onerous paperwork involved has saved our clients a significant sum. Victoria has renewed her registration to use this licence in 2016.