Following a preliminary ecological appraisal and full reptile surveys, Arbtech were contacted to prepare an ecological design strategy (EDS), also known as an ecological mitigation and enhancement plan.
The purpose of this document was to discharge a planning condition relating to the protection of wildlife and habitats during site works, and to ensure long term improvements for biodiversity.
The preliminary ecological appraisal involved a full site survey to map all habitats present and assess the site for its suitability for protected species. The report then made the necessary recommendations for any further survey work to establish the presence of protected species on site. as part of the PEA, adjacent habitats within the zone of influence were also considered.
The local area
Brighton and Hove are coastal towns in East Sussex which although densely populated have a network of green spaces which provide vital habitats for wildlife.
The area has local nature reserves (LNR) including Beacon Hill which has chalk grassland and scrub and a significant population of slow worms. Also close by is Withdean and Westdene Woods LNR in which mature woodlands support a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
To the north, beyond the A27 is the South Downs National Park. The area is part of the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve.
The EDS takes the form of a desk-based report which brings together all previous survey work, and sets out a detailed strategy for the protection, management and enhancement of all protected species and habitats on and immediately surrounding the development site.
This can only be done once all required ecological surveys have been carried out, so that all necessary data regarding protected species and habitat has been collected. All of these should have been carried out prior to obtaining planning consent.
The site in question was mostly grassland and scrub with scattered trees which provides good habitat for reptiles, and full reptile surveys were recommended in the preliminary ecological appraisal. These surveys were carried out and identified populations of slow worms and common lizards on site.
A full reptile mitigation plan was created which involved fencing, trapping and translocation of the animals. These methods are required to ensure that no animals are killed or injured during site clearance and construction.
Deciduous woodland priority habitat was identified adjacent to the site which requires protection from secondary impacts of the development such as lighting and dust.
The EDS contained detailed mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures for woodland, bats, birds, herptiles, dormice, hedgehogs and invertebrates. This included provision of habitat boxes to be installed on trees and integrated into the new buildings.
Integrated bird and bat boxes provide a permanent biodiversity feature in new developments. These are particularly important for bird species such as house sparrows and swifts. Integrated bee and insect bricks were also included.
The addition of log piles in the EDS provides habitat for a range of species, particularly invertebrates and reptiles and are easy to implement and maintain, and gaps left in fences allowed the site to continue to be used as part of a green corridor.
The creation of new green habitats within a developed site is particularly important, and the EDS addresses this with details of native hedgerow planting and wildflower areas.
The production of the EDS document successfully discharged the planning condition and allowed the development to commence.