We undertake all types of ecological survey.
We listen to and carefully guide our clients and prepare relevant information that is fit for purpose.
The scope survey required may range from a simple bat survey, to a portfolio of surveys for protected species and preparation of an Environmental Statement for a major or extensive development.
Clients seeking to purchase or manage a site may require preliminary ecological guidance. We undertake simple ‘walkover ecological surveys’ and prepare brief guidance (scoping) reports to identify constraints and opportunities. Our input has been valuable in advising our clients and contributing to a site masterplan that avoids constraints and plans for biodiversity.
Planning application submissions often need to provide ecological information about a site. Our surveys will meet the requirements of the local planning authority and other consultees such as Natural England.
Our team is committed to remaining up to date with relevant changes in wildlife legislation, planning policy, best practice guidance and new research to ensure we provide our clients with informed advice.
The full range of ecological services provided by ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd is detailed below.
- Phase 1 Habitat Survey, National Vegetation Classification (NVC) and Hedgerow Surveys
- Protected Species Surveys (Bat species, Barn Owl, Badger, Bird species, Great Crested Newt, Otter, reptile species, Water Vole, White-clawed Crayfish)
- Mitigation Strategies and Licences
- Ecological Impact Assessment (EIA) and Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)
- Appropriate Assessment (AA)
- River Corridor Survey
- Public Inquiries and Expert Witness
- Ecological Assessment for BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (C4SH)
- Japanese Knotweed and other Invasive Plant Species Survey and Management
- Habitat Creation, Enhancement and Management
- Post Activity Monitoring
- Ecological Clerk of Works
- Talks and Presentations
Phase 1 Habitat Survey
Often the first step in assessing the ecological status of a site, ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can apply the Phase 1 Habitat Survey methodology to determine the potential ecological value of a site and identify potential development and planning constraints, plus opportunities for biodiversity gains to satisfy Government planning policy guidance.
National Vegetation Classification
ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd is skilled in the completion of National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys to determine specific plant communities and sub-communities. The NVC is a systematic and comprehensive analysis of British vegetation and is widely used by ecological consultants to provide a scientific basis for the description and evaluation of habitats.
Hedgerows are classed as Priority Habitat and are also listed on many local BAPs. Where appropriate, our ecologists conduct surveys to determine whether or not hedgerows qualify as ‘important’ under the ecological criteria of The Hedgerows Regulations 1997.
The application of this survey technique can assist in providing informed guidance prior to and during the preparation of a site layout or masterplan.
Protected Species Surveys
Many species of flora and fauna receive statutory protection under both UK and European legislation.
Our team of ecologists holds the relevant species survey licences to undertake specific surveys in England and Wales to detect the presence of protected species.
We are adept in collating high quality survey data to guide our clients in relation to protected species occurrence. Our guidance may range from recommending seasonal timing constraints on work, to detailed and licensed mitigation schemes to avoid or minimise adverse impacts.
Protected species are a material consideration in determining planning applications or development proposals. Where there is reasonable potential for protected species occurrence an assessment is required before an application will be registered.
The protected species surveys we carry out regularly are as follows:-
All 18 British bat species and their roosts receive full protection under European and UK legislation.
Licensed bat surveyors at ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can survey structures which have the potential to be used by bats such as buildings, trees, bridges, culverts, walls and tunnels. A bat survey may be required prior to actions involving the demolition or conversion of buildings, management works (such as tree felling operations) and maintenance (such as bridge improvement).
Surveys may involve all or a selection of the following: –
- Daylight inspections including the external and internal examination of a building.
- Nocturnal surveys for bat activity.
- Dusk and dawn surveys for the detection of bats leaving and re-entering a possible roost.
- Use of remote recording equipment such as Anabat and dataloggers
Bat surveys can be carried out throughout the year but May to August is the optimum time.
It is often the case that planning applications which may affect a structure with potential for use by bats will only be registered by the Local Planning Authority following the submission of a bat survey report. Our reports are in a suitable format for submission to the Local Planning Authority.
If bats are found it may be necessary to prepare a mitigation strategy to ensure all works are carried out in accordance with relevant wildlife legislation and best practice. In some instances works may only be carried out under a European Protected Species (EPS) licence or a Natural England Class Licence. We have extensive experience in preparing licence applications and implementing successful mitigation.
Surveys to detect roosting or breeding Barn Owl are often carried out in conjunction with bat surveys.
We regularly carry out Barn Owl surveys and provide advice and guidance in relation to accommodating Barn Owls within a site. This can involve designing mitigation such as replacement roosting sites, including purpose built cavities in buildings, tree mounted boxes and stand-alone nest boxes mounted on poles.
The Protection of Badgers Act 1992, protects badgers and their setts.
Surveys for Badger can be undertaken at any time of the year. When Badger presence is suspected at a site it is often advisable to spread site visits over a few months to gain a thorough understanding of the population status. The survey involves searching for Badger setts and signs of Badger activity such as footprints, latrines and runs.
When proposed actions may disturb Badgers and/or their habitat, ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can provide guidance, including mitigation to accommodate badger setts and foraging habitats within a development scheme.
Any works likely to impact upon or disturb badgers must be licensed. ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can prepare licence applications and implement and supervise the licensed actions and relevant mitigation.
All species of wild bird are protected whilst they are nesting. Our experienced ecologists can carry out visual and audible (identifying birds by their song) surveys for breeding birds in a wide range of habitats.
Surveys can be generalist, to record all birds on a site, or can target a certain species or group of species.
ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can also conduct surveys to determine the use or value of a site by wintering and passage migrant birds.
Typically, site clearance or habitat management operations that affect potential bird breeding habitats should take place outside the bird breeding season. When this is not possible, our team will carry out nesting bird checks to determine the status of nesting birds at the site; from this we can provide appropriate advice in relation to a proposed activity.
Great Crested Newt
The Great Crested Newt is Britain’s largest newt species, it is widespread throughout much of England and Wales, but extremely local in its distribution. The species has suffered a decline mainly because of the loss of breeding ponds, reduction in breeding pond suitability and fragmentation of habitats.
The Great Crested Newt is fully protected under European and UK wildlife legislation.
Our team of ecologists has extensive experience and relevant survey licences to conduct surveys to detect the presence of Great Crested Newts. Surveys can be carried out during the breeding season between mid-March to mid-June. Surveys typically involve searching for eggs laid on aquatic vegetation, bottle trapping, torchlight surveys, netting for adults and larvae and terrestrial habitat searching. We also carry out environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling for laboratory analysis to determine presence / absence of Great Crested Newt.
A full Great Crested Newt survey typically involves the survey and assessment of all ponds and other habitat within a radius of at least 250m from a proposed development or activity that may disturb Great Crested Newt habitat.
We can provide guidance with regard to the reduction of any adverse effects an activity may have on Great Crested Newts or their habitats.
Any works likely to impact upon Great Crested Newts or their habitats will require an EPSM licence. We can prepare the necessary licence application and implement and supervise the licensed actions and relevant mitigation.
After a long period of decline Otters are returning to rivers and streams, particularly in urban areas.
The Otter receives protection under both European and UK wildlife legislation. Whilst the elusive Otter is rarely seen our ecologists are skilled in the detection of signs of the presence of Otter such as spraints (dung), footprints, potential holt sites and feeding remains.
We have advised on a number of schemes where Otter have been recorded and our clients have able to implement proposals whilst minimising potential adverse effects on Otter and their habitats. This has involved the instigation of appropriate timing and buffers and habitat creation.
There are six species of reptile native to Britain. All are afforded a degree of protection under UK wildlife legislation.
At appropriate times of year our experienced herpetologists will conduct presence/absence surveys. Typically, a combination of three standard survey techniques is used:
- Habitat assessment (identifying the potential for occurrence);
- Use of refugia (sheets of roofing felt and corrugated tin), placed in sunny locations then searched for basking reptiles (under appropriate weather and temperature conditions), and;
- Visual searches (quietly approaching and inspecting likely basking spots)
Mitigation and/or compensation measures may be necessary if reptiles are found, to ensure that the proposed activity does not have a negative impact on them. Our herpetologists have the experience to design and implement suitable mitigation schemes where required.
The Water Vole was once common and widespread throughout mainland Britain. Since the beginning of the 20th Century it has undergone a catastrophic reduction in numbers and distribution.
The Water Vole receives full statutory protection in the UK.
Our ecologists are experienced in detecting the presence of Water Voles, typically conducting surveys by entering the water-course to inspect both banks for field signs such as burrows, feeding stations, latrines and footprints.
Where proposed work may affect Water Voles or their habitats, we provide guidance to either avoid affecting Water Vole habitat or to displace and exclude Water Voles from an area to be affected.
We can also provide guidance on implementing practical conservation measures to improve Water Vole habitat, including restoration of degraded water-course habitat and bank-side vegetation.
The White-clawed Crayfish is a native freshwater crustacean, once widespread throughout a variety of clean aquatic habitats but now severely threatened and declining for a combination of reasons.
The White-clawed Crayfish and its habitat is afforded protection under European and UK wildlife legislation.
During suitable time periods we can conduct licensed presence/absence surveys using a standard combination of manual searches, trapping and torchlight survey. Please note that White-clawed Crayfish spend most of winter (December to March) torpid in refuges and cannot be surveyed at such times. The optimum survey period in northern Britain is July to September.
If a White-clawed Crayfish population is found, our ecologists have the experience to provide guidance on precautionary protection measures and to design and implement suitable mitigation schemes where necessary.
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invertebrates
Several terrestrial and aquatic invertebrate species are afforded a high level of legal protection in the UK. Where planning applications or other proposed actions have potential to harm such species, or alter the habitats supporting them, they are a material consideration in determination of the application.
A number of methods are employed in order to survey for invertebrates:-
- Terrestrial invertebrate surveys may comprise a combination of habitat assessment, visual searches, pitfall trapping, sweep netting, light trapping and grubbing.
- Aquatic invertebrate surveys typically entail a combination of visual searching and sweep netting.
Our surveyors are appropriately licensed for situations where the survey techniques involve disturbing or handling legally protected invertebrate species.
Seasonal survey constraints apply and ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd will provide site specific guidance on invertebrate survey requirements and timings, based on an assessment of the types of invertebrate species likely to be present.
If protected invertebrate species are found we have the experience to design precautionary protection measures and suitable mitigation or habitat replacement schemes where necessary.
Opportunities for biodiversity enhancement in sites sometimes entail restoring degraded habitats or creating new habitat features for the benefit of protected invertebrate species.
If you have any queries about a protected species, please contact one of our ecologists on 01772 750502.
Mitigation Strategies and Licences
Where a protected species is present and a proposal may unavoidably affect the species or its habitat, a mitigation strategy will be required. Our team of ecologists has extensive experience of preparing appropriate strategies to minimise adverse effects and ensure compliance with wildlife legislation, planning policy and best practice. Our guidance aims to be practical and effective, to achieve maximum success.
A licence may be required in order to carry out some activities. Our ecologists are experienced in the design, preparation, implementation and monitoring of licences for protected species such as Badger, Great Crested Newt and bat species.
Our knowledge of appropriate mitigation is increasing thanks to the monitoring of implemented projects and attendance at workshops and seminars. We have presented our findings at conferences.
Examples of a few of the schemes we have worked on with our clients are presented below: –
- Design and supervision of construction of replacement bat roosts including maternity, satellite and hibernation roosts followed by implementation of licensed works and monitoring. Case Study
- Guidance in relation to the implementation of works in the vicinity of a Badger sett. This involved the creation of artificial setts and the closure of a sett, under licence, with the use of one-way gates. Case Study
- Design and implementation of many Great Crested Newt trapping and translocation schemes in conjunction with habitat enhancement and creation. Case Study
- Design of mitigation schemes for the protection and enhancement of Water Vole.
Ecological Impact Assessment (EIA) and Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)
Our team of ecologists has extensive experience in the planning and preparation of ecology and biodiversity chapters for inclusion in Environmental Statements for major developments.
We are familiar with the planning requirements and application of the Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) guidelines.
Appropriate Assessment (AA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)
Appropriate Assessments (AA)and Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRA) are required where development proposals may have a likely significant effect on sites of European importance such as Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can provide all relevant information and undertake shadow HRA to assist and inform our clients and all relevant statutory bodies.
River Corridor Survey
Where a proposed development or activity may have an adverse impact on a river or riparian system, ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd will apply the River Corridor Survey methodology to collate information required by a determining local planning authority, a statutory consultee such as the Environment Agency or a non-statutory consultee such as a Wildlife Trust.
Public Inquiries and Expert Witness
ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd can provide appropriate and experienced ecological experts to compile and present evidence at Public Inquiries, informal hearings, and for inquiries by written representation.
Ecological Assessment for BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (C4SH)
Our ecologists meet the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Ltd criteria to be listed as ‘suitably qualified ecologists’. We can prepare and compile all relevant information in relation to criterion LE02 to LE05 of the BREEAM guidance and criterion Eco1 to Eco4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes guidance.
We have provided supporting information to assist a range of developments such as healthcare centres, university accommodation, schools, fire stations, commercial business parks and residential schemes achieve their targets and obtain maximum credits available.
Japanese Knotweed and other Invasive Plant Species Survey and Management
‘Invasive species’ are those which have been introduced to the UK and have established themselves to the detriment or potential detriment of our native ecology.
Japanese Knotweed is a particular problem along rivers and on brownfield sites, with its distribution having nearly doubled in the past 20 years. It will grow from tiny fragments of rhizome (the underground shoot and root system) and by short sections of aerial stem, so it is easily spread by machinery when earthworks and site clearance are being undertaken.
In accordance with UK legislation it is an offence to cause the spread of Japanese Knotweed (and other listed invasive species) in the wild.
Our experienced ecologists will identify the presence or absence of invasive plant species as part of a standard walkover survey and can provide advice on any further survey requirements and/or standard control measures.
Habitat Creation, Enhancement and Management
ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd is proud to have been involved in a number of schemes where our specialist ecological advice has maximised the biodiversity benefits of a project.
Our ecologists have provided practical advice on the creation, enhancement and management of a range of habitats including Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitats such as: –
- River corridors;
- Wetlands for the conservation of waterfowl and wading bird species;
- Streams and minor water courses with wetland and backwaters for Water Vole;
- Magnesian Limestone grassland enhancement and creation;
- Enhancement and long-term management of species-rich grassland habitats on industrial waste such as PFA (pulverised fuel ash from power stations), colliery spoil, Leblanc Process (Sodium carbonate manufacture) waste, and other chemical wastes (chromate smelter waste, gasworks waste and various metal smelter wastes and heavy metal mine spoils).
- Wetlands including ponds and marshes, limestone grasslands, acidic grasslands, heathlands, calamine grasslands, heathlands, species-rich mesotrophic grasslands and other important or rare habitats in disused and active mineral extraction sites (limestone quarries, chalk pits, clay pits, sand and gravel pits, hard rock quarries and others).
- Ponds for amphibians and invertebrates, and;
- Urban Nature Reserves.
In most cases part of our contribution has involved the preparation of a long-term management and maintenance plan. Ecological and Environmental Management plans are increasingly becoming a mandatory requirement in connection with large development schemes and BREEAM schemes.
Post Activity Monitoring
ERAP (Consultant Ecologists) Ltd is regularly commissioned to carry out post-activity monitoring. In many cases this is in connection with the implementation of a licensed mitigation scheme for a protected species.
Our ecologists consider the application of post-activity monitoring to be an essential part of effective mitigation. The results of our monitoring surveys help inform the design of subsequent schemes for protected species and other wildlife. Finding successful specifications that can be applied at similar sites often saves our clients time, effort and expense.
Ecological Clerk of Works
We regularly provide an ecological clerk of works (ECoW) service to supervise activities and provide advice to construction and management teams.
Our ecologists are knowledgeable of the health and safety requirements at operational sites and have appropriate personal protective equipment.
Ecological supervision is usually required during the implementation of works under European protected species licences (i.e. bat species and Great Crested Newt licences, a badger licence), during the bird nesting season or on BREEAM sites.
Talks and Presentations
Our team of ecologists regularly attend organised conferences, workshops and seminars as we are keen to expand our knowledge and remain informed of recent discoveries and activities.
In addition, our ecologists are willing to present talks on a range of ecological subjects.
Please Contact Us if you have an enquiry.