Regrettably, dormice have declined in both numbers and distribution by at least 50% over the last century and continues to deteriorate, making dormouse surveys vital when considering any potential works in their habitats.
The hazel dormouse is an agile climber and is predominantly nocturnal; they are also known for hibernating for seven months of the year. Although occupying a variety of habitats like hedgerows, woodland, shrub, etc., they are commonly associated with long-rotation hazel coppiced woodlands. Moreover, they are a flagship species as their conservation has an ‘umbrella effect’ – protecting and conserving other species in the same habitat (Bright et al. 2006).
Dormouse Survey Legislation
Hazel dormice are protected under UK and European Union (“EU”) laws, including:
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
- The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010
Under these legislations dormice are protected from:
- Capturing, killing, injuring and disturbing;
- Damaging or destroying breeding/resting places;
- Obstructing access to resting places; and
- Possessing, advertising for sale, selling or transporting for sale, live or dead (part or derivative).
What We Offer
Remember, for your commercial or domestic development proposal, LPAs require sufficient information to ensure wildlife obtains the highest protection against injury or disturbance during development. This usually means undertaking a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (“PEA”), and further dormouse surveys if the species is likely to be present.
If hazel dormice are present, it is likely that a European Protected Species (“EPS”) mitigation license and an appropriate mitigation strategy will be mandatory in order to proceed with the works. Greenlight can help with these requirements.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (“PEA”)
For any kind of development, an initial site assessment is required to identify habitats present on site that may support protected species, like dormice. Preliminary Ecological Appraisals are the first step to address ecological aspects of a planning application and can be conducted at any time of the year. After undertaking a site visit and desktop assessment, the PEA would recommend if further dormouse surveys were necessary and appropriate mitigation and enhancements for the proposed development.
Visual Searches & Nest Tube Dormouse Surveys
Visual searches seek gnawed hazel nuts within the grounds to determine the presence of dormice on a site. Nest tube surveys are also used to confirm the absence/presence of dormice in a woodland by using tubes. These nest tubes should be installed in March, in preparation for the beginning of dormouse surveys, and the surveys can only be conducted between April and November.
European Protected Species (“EPS”) Mitigation Licences
An EPS mitigation licence is issued by Natural England under the Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2010 (as amended). It is issued in order to capture or disturb individual dormice and to obstruct, modify, or destroy their breeding/resting places.
Overseeing & Translocation Works
Overseeing works, including toolbox talks, consist of a watching brief during construction to ensure installation and works are kept outside a buffer zone to protect any dormouse. Translocation works sees individual dormice caught and translocated to a suitable receptor site that is conducted under an EPS mitigation licence. The reason for these measures is to avoid killing or injuring individual dormice. Find out how else we can provide construction support.
Mitigation & Enhancements
Mitigation measures are a way of reducing the unavoidable negative impacts on hazel dormice a development will have. Some examples include:
- progressively clearing narrow strips of habitat: If only a relatively small part of a hedgerow or woodland strip is to be removed, and that the remaining habitat is linked to larger dormouse habitat, dormice can be persuaded to leave the area by progressively clearing narrow strips of habitat.
- create habitat bridges
If no other mitigation designs are achievable, dormice may also be translocated to a suitable receptor site.
Compensation and enhancement measures may include:
- creating new dormouse habitat (hedgerow, scrub, woodland or boxes)
- improving retained habitat (through thinning, coppicing or new planting)
Greenlight Environmental Dormouse Surveys
If you are concerned about planning policies or environmental legislation, you can rely on Greenlight Environmental Consultancy. With surveyors based around East Anglia and a wide range of services with respect to dormouse surveys, we can help you with your project.
Contact us today to discuss your project’s requirements.