Ecological Surveys and Planning Permission

With any building development or change of use, certain processes must be followed to ensure that a project can go ahead in line with all relevant legislation. Planning permission is usually required for ‘development’ (such as building, or changing the use of a building or land) – and assessing the ecology of the site is a vital part of the process of preparing a planning application.

Ecology is a key factor in Local Planning Authority decision-making. LPAs have a duty to protect existing habitats and species. There is an emerging requirement to ‘better’ the ecological status of the site through Biodiversity Net Gain as part of the development. This needs to be considered at an early stage in your development plans. Ecological surveys include both desk-based research and on-site field surveys, which are presented within a report covering the existing status of the site, the impacts of the proposals and recommended mitigation measures. Following this advice from a qualified ecologist will ensure that your development complies with legislation to protect species and habitats – which, when ignored or missed, could result in heavy fines or legal action. It will also help to avoid delays to your planning application being assessed – or the application refused – due to missing information.

Ecological survey lead times can vary throughout the year depending on the level of survey required and whether any on-site surveys for protected species such as bats are required. Many surveys are seasonally constrained, so need to be undertaken during a specific ‘survey window’ over the active spring and summer months. Missing this window can delay a project due to needing to wait for the next year’s survey season. This is why it is so essential to conduct an ecology survey and receive an ecology report as early as possible in the project. A desk-based report (sometimes referred to as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, or a Phase 1 Habitat Survey) can be undertaken at any point in the year.

At EP, we work closely with a team of ecologists and planning specialists to ensure that all ecology surveys and reports are prepared alongside all other requirements to secure planning permission. If you are thinking about a project, we can advise on what ecological surveys may be required and how this would fit into your overall planning and development timescales. To find out more please see the services we offer here. You can also contact us with any questions.

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