These are the main ecology services we offer, but we would be very happy to discuss your requirements outside these categories.
We have surveyors based throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to provide cost-effective ecology surveys.
If you require a quote, need further explanation or have any questions, please contact us by clicking here.
Ecology surveys are required by planning authorities where a proposed development may impact wildlife. The findings are reported and submitted as part of a planning application, allow local planning authorities to make an informed planning decision based on impacts of the proposed development on protected species and biodiversity. For more information, please click on the headings below.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (“PEA”)
A PEA provides the baseline ecological data for a site and is typically required as a first step to address the ecological aspects of a planning application. Our reports provide an initial site assessment used to identify the habitats present on site that may support protected species. They are comprised of three key sections:
- Desktop study – to search for records of protected sites, habitats and species within a defined study area.
- Site walkover – to evaluate and map the habitats present and to assess suitability for protected species.
- Mitigation and enhancements – any ecological constraints will be identified and recommendations made if further protected species surveys are necessary. Our reports will provide appropriate mitigation and enhancements for the proposed development.
We follow the Phase 1 methodology as documented by the Nature Conservancy Council, but enhance this with an assessment of protected species, adding to the overall habitat assessment. All PEAs are carried out in accordance with CIEEM guidelines for Preliminary Ecological Appraisals. Please note: PEAs include Preliminary Bat Roost Assessments (“PRA”) if buildings and/or trees are present on site.
Preliminary Bat Roost Assessments (“PRA”)
A PRA is usually required when a development involves the demolition of a building, part of a building, or any works which may affect a location where bats could be roosting (e.g. re-roofing, building extensions, loft conversions, or removal of trees). PRAs aim to evaluate the suitability of a building or tree for roosting bats, identify any signs of bat use in the structure and to assess the need for further bat activity surveys.
Our PRA surveys are conducted in accordance with the most up to date Bat Survey Guidelines and involve the following:
- A desktop study to search for statutory protected sites, habitats and records of granted protected species mitigation licences in the vicinity of the site.
- An internal and external inspection of the building(s) and/or tree(s) on site by a bat licensed ecologist to search for signs of bats and/or features which could be suitable for roosting bats. This inspection is carried out in daylight and can be undertaken at any time of the year.
- Our report will provide a clear description of our findings, along with an assessment of the potential impacts of the proposed works on bats. Further bat activity surveys may be recommended, should evidence of bat presence or suitable roosting features be identified within the structure(s) or tree(s) on site.
- The report will provide appropriate mitigation and enhancements measures to avoid detrimental impacts on the potential local bat population from the proposed works. If bats use the structure(s) or tree(s) for roosting, a European Protected Species (“EPS”) Mitigation Licence from Natural England may be required to conduct proposed works.
Please click here or on the headings below for more information on Protected Species Surveys and European Protected Species (“EPS”) Mitigation Licences.
Protected Species Surveys
Protected Species surveys are usually required if the initial survey (e.g. PEA or PRA) has identified suitable habitats on site and potential detrimental impacts on protected species from the proposed works.
We conduct all our Protected Species Surveys in accordance with the current best practice. We document survey results using bespoke and pre-designed templates to ensure a complete audit trail and excellent record-keeping.
Our surveyors hold the relevant Natural England species survey licences and have extensive experience to conduct a wide range of Protected Species Survey including:
Our bat surveys are carried out with state of the art Anabat, Echometer and Song Meter 2 bat detectors which record bat echolocation sounds. We use sound analysis software for identification to species level and can provide multiple detectors to monitor a range of locations, including long-term monitoring. Our infra-red camera equipment accurately records the number of bats that use a roost and pinpoints the exact location where bats access their roost. This is invaluable information for a site where a European Protected Species mitigation licence is required.
Ecological Impact Assessments (“EcIA”)
An EcIA is a process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating potential effects of development-related or other proposed actions on habitats, species and ecosystems. Our reports provide recommendations for mitigation necessary to ensure obligations with respect to biodiversity are met. An EcIA is generally comprised of a PEA and protected species surveys, and is often undertaken as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment. Following the CIEEM guidelines we look at several key elements for an EcIA:
- Establishing a baseline by collecting information from data searches and the PEA to determine the ecological conditions in the absence of the proposed development.
- Identifying important ecological features (habitat, species and ecosystems).
- Assessing the impacts and effects on these ecological features from the proposed works.
- When impacts are identified, we advise on mitigation measures to undertake in order to avoid, reduce and compensate adverse impacts on biodiversity.
Habitat Regulations Assessments (“HRA”)
A HRA is required for developments that may have an impact on European Protected (Natura 2000) sites. Its purpose is to consider the impacts of a land-use plan against conservation objectives of the site and to ascertain whether it would adversely affect the integrity of the site. A HRA report looks at four stages:
- Screening: identifying likely impacts of the project upon protected sites. If there are no likely impacts then stages 2, 3 and 4 are not required.
- Appropriate assessment: once significant effects are identified, an assessment of the implications of the project on the site conservation objectives are carried out.
- Assessment of alternative solutions: an assessment into alternatives ways of achieving the project objectives to avoid or have lower effects on protected sites are considered.
- Overriding Public Interest: the project is justified by ‘Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest’ and compensatory measures drawn up.
Greenlight has expertise in the provision of HRA Screening and Appropriate Assessment reports. We have particular experience in HRA dealing with potential impacts on Protected Sites which are designated for supporting populations of stone curlews Burhinus oedicnemus.
Environmental Impact Assessments (“EIA”)
An EIA is required on larger developments where triggered by The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, such as the installation of multiple wind turbines, intensive livestock structures and major housing developments. The EIA is the entire process whereby information about the environmental effects of a project is collated and assessed. This is taken into account when considering whether a project should go ahead or not.
We act as the lead consultant for the production of EIAs and provide an assessment of the full range of environmental impacts using our network of specialists. This includes air quality and health, landscape and visual impact, traffic, amenity, ecology, noise and vibration, water and soils. We employ the practices for EIA as promoted by the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.
European Protected Species (“EPS”) Mitigation Licences
EPS Mitigation Licences are required when activities which are expected to have an impact on a European Protected Species cannot be avoided and would constitute an offence if conducted without a licence. Such activities include:
- Deliberately or recklessly disturbing, injuring, killing or capturing a protected species.
- Damaging or destroying a breeding or resting site.
- Obstructing access to a protected species breeding or resting site.
- Possessing, selling or transport live or dead (parts or derivatives).
An EPS Mitigation Licence Application comprises a suite of documents including:
- Application form – contains information on the client, ecologist, proposed development and species affected.
- Method statement – details survey findings, species and numbers present, proposed mitigation and monitoring.
- Work schedule – a timetable detailing the start of works, watching briefs, construction/erection of mitigation and monitoring.
- Reasoned statement – details reasons of overriding public interest and any satisfactory alternatives.
To obtain an EPS Mitigation Licence, the following criteria must be met:
- Consent obtained (e.g. planning permission), with all conditions discharged except for obtaining an EPS Mitigation Licence.
- An adequate level of survey effort undertaken to assess the impact of the proposed development on the protected species and to provide an appropriate mitigation strategy.
Our team is experienced in applying for Natural England EPS Mitigation Licenses for bats, great crested newts and water voles. Through a network of experienced species experts, we have a proven track record of successful applications and work in close consultation with our clients to ensure the mitigation strategy can be tailored to the project. Please click on the headings below for more information on mitigation used for obtaining an EPS Mitigation Licence for these species.
Mitigation is site specific and will vary depending on the number and species present. Guidelines recommend roosts are replaced on a ‘like for like’ basis. These examples provide an overview of several different forms of mitigation and is not an exhaustive list.
An ecologist to inform workers of bat signs, potential roost/access points, what to do if bats are found and to avoid activities that might cause high vibrations or noise.
Usually undertaken during March/April or September/October, watching briefs include a soft roof strip or partial demolition of the walls around bat roosts under supervision a licenced bat ecologist. Any bats found are removed to safety.
Standalone bat boxes:
Installed on trees at a height ≥4m on a southwest or southeast aspect. Greenlight recommends Schwegler bat boxes which are designed to mimic natural roost sites. Please note: although there are numerous types of bat boxes available, a large proportion are not suitable as mitigation.
Integrated bat roosts:
There are three main integrated bat roosts.
- Integrated bat boxes/tubes – installed in the external brickwork of buildings, either flush or beneath a rendered surface.
- Weatherboard roosts – involves cutting a small section of weatherboard to allow access for bats between two batons. Weatherboard roosts must only be lined with traditional type 1F bitumen felt.
- Cavity walls – providing access for bats into a cavity wall using specialised access panels or integrated bat boxes/tubes.
Loft spaces should have a minimum footprint of 5m x 5m and a height of 2m to the apex. They must feature no truss members within the central loft area (e.g. attic trusses), timber joists, a ridge beam and several access points (e.g. from roof and ridge tiles, and gable ends). These roofs must be lined with traditional type 1F bitumen felt and contain a small inspection hatch for cleaning and monitoring.
Lighting schemes should follow guidance from the Bat Conservation Trust and CIE 150:2003. Warm-white lights with UV filters should be fitted as close to the ground as possible. Lighting units should be angled below 70° and equipped with movement sensors, baffles, hood, louvres and horizontal cut off units at 90°.
Great crested newts (“GCN”)
Mitigation is site specific and will vary depending on the habitats and number of GCN present. These examples provide an overview of several different forms of mitigation and is not an exhaustive list.
An ecologist to inform workers on identifying GCN, what to do if found, how to store materials and manage ground works.
This involves the capturing and moving of GCN to a safe receptor site and works by installing an amphibian proof fencing, with pitfall traps and temporary refugia, around the site perimeter. The site is then checked on a daily basis for a set period of time (determined by the population class size present) or until five clear nights of trapping.
Usually undertaken after GCN have been translocated from a site. Watching briefs include the dismantling of rubble and log piles, and turning over of the topsoil using an excavator under supervision a licenced GCN ecologist. Any GCN found are removed to safety.
Guidelines recommend habitats are replaced on a ‘like for like’ basis, and may include the creation of:
- Ponds – have a surface area between 100-300m2, substantial submerged and marginal vegetation, and with the absence of fish, waterfowl and shading on the south side.
- Hibernacula – located on free-draining soils, they should measure at least 2m long, 1m wide and 1m high, and be constructed from inert, clean hardcore, rubble, logs and loose topsoil.
- Terrestrial habitats – this may be in the form of scrub, woodland, hedgerows, banks and ditches, rough grassland, disturbed ground and pasture.
Pond restoration varies depending on the site and condition of the pond, but may include the desilting and clearing of leaf-fall, clearing of shade on the south side and management of alien plant species.
Mitigation is site specific and will vary depending on the number and species present. These examples provide an overview of several different forms of mitigation and is not an exhaustive list.
Involves erecting a temporary protective fence 5m from the watercourse to protect water vole habitats and burrows.
Habitat creation and Sustainable Drainage Systems:
EPS licences require the area and quality of habitat created to be larger than the habitat lost. This is normally achieved through the creation of new ditches or incorporating suitable habitats into drainage systems. In most cases newly created habitats must provide:
- Water all year round and have a stable or slow flow rate.
- A suitable bank substrate for burrowing, which is not liable to collapse.
- A suitable bank profile, which extends above the flood levels.
- Pre-established suitable bankside and marginal vegetation.
Conducted between 15th February and 31st Marsh in suitable weather (daytime temperature ≥5°), displacement involves the clearing of vegetation in ≤50m sections on both sides of the watercourse. This discourages water voles from using the area and moves them into pre-established habitats.
Translocations are conducted on stretches of watercourse exceeding 50m. They involve:
- Trapping water voles between 1st March and 15th April by licenced ecologists.
- Releasing them into a suitable receptor site or holding facility.
- Long-term management of the receptor site, including habitats and mink control.
Conducted after displacement or translocations, watching briefs involve a destructive search of burrows under the supervision of a suitably experienced ecologist.
Used in conjunction with habitat creation and displacement mitigation, two forms of culverts are widely accepted.
- Over-sized box culverts: ≤30m in length and ≥1m of headroom above normal water level.
- Circular culverts: 1200mm in diameter, ≤10m in length and ≥300mm of headroom above normal water level.
We are experienced in providing Ecological Clerk of Works duties to major civil engineering projects, and provide the required monitoring and reporting function to ensure wildlife legislation requirements are met.
If your development needs to proceed and there are risks to protected species that may be present, we can provide a licensed ecologist to be on site to oversee operations and deal with protected species under the relevant Natural England license. Typically, this may involve clearing trees or shrubs that may form bird nesting habitat during the nesting season, clearance of areas which may contain reptiles or amphibians, felling of trees that may contain bat roosts, or building works, such as roof tile removal where bats may be present.
We recommend that a decision to commission work under a watching brief is made after a survey and assessment of the risk of protected species being present.
Ecological Management Plans and Method Statements
Ecological Management Plans and Method Statements are often prepared to discharge a condition as part of the planning permission, and are designed to safeguard biodiversity.
We prepare reports in accordance with recommendations in the British Standard BS42020: 2013 – Biodiversity – Code of practice for planning and development.
Reports are tailored to address the planning condition in question and will include information on timings of sensitive works, risk assessments of potential impacts and mitigation and enhancement measures.