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).
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.
Following the discovery of a large badger sett at a redevelopment site in south Manchester, ERAP Ltd (Consultant Ecologists) provided practical guidance to ensure the welfare of badger was protected throughout the earthworks and all relevant wildlife legislation and planning requirements were complied with.
In late summer 2015, we obtained a Natural England licence to temporarily exclude the badger setts which would be affected by the earthworks, keeping open those which remained a safe distance from the proposals and associated works. The licensed works comprised the use of one-way gates, which is a standard exclusion technique.
This facilitated the earthworks and demolition to enable the new build. The temporarily excluded entrances were then uncovered in February 2016.
Monitoring surveys in spring 2016 have found the re-opened badger setts are back in active use. Typical signs of badger activity were present, including compacted earth and badger tracks, discarded bedding, and hairs found in the sett entrances.
This is great news and demonstrates that a carefully planned and successfully implemented mitigation strategy can ensure the protection of the welfare of badger whilst facilitating a development.
Here’s a couple of short videos of badger activity which was recorded by one of our camera traps.
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.
The team is currently getting to grips with the new (3rd) edition of ‘Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines‘ (Collins, 2016). This is the definitive guidance and describes the survey approach expected by Natural England, local planning authorities and bat groups.
We are ready to appropriately advise our clients ahead of the 2016 bat survey season and look forward to another busy and interesting year.
We welcome Dr Nicola Wallbank to our ecologist team. After graduating with a First Class B.Sc. Honours degree in Wildlife and Practical Conservation from the University of Salford in 2008, Nicola went on to conduct a four year research project investigating the impacts of climate and socio-economic change on ecosystem services of urban amenity greenspaces. Since the successful completion of her Ph.D. Nicola has worked in environmental consultancy conducting habitat and protected species surveys, compiling, interpreting and reporting survey data as well as acting as Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW).
Nicola has settled in well and is getting involved with all aspects of our work.