A client contacted Arbtech via our website after their local council asked for a preliminary ecological appraisal to assess whether there will be any impacts on protected species and habitats as a result of the development. This type of survey is important to ensure no protected species or valuable habitats are lost or impacted during and post development. The proposal was for an eco-friendly campsite that would seek to enhance the area for wildlife.
Having a professional ecological survey carried out not only satisfies the planning department and reduces risks of breaking the law, but if you are keen to protect and enhance natural habitats and wildlife, the ecologist will be able to advise you of the best ways to this, and provide tailored mitigation and enhancement solutions.
About the area
Storrington is a large village at the foot of the South Downs. The local area has several designated sites for nature including Sullington Warren SSSI, Parham Park SSSI, Amberly Mount to Sullington Hill SSSI and Cissbury Ring SSSI.
Amberley Mount to Sullington Hill is the closest at just 550m south which contains species rich chalk grassland and notable populations of rare butterflies, moths and snails. Cissbury Ring is of biological importance for its unimproved chalk grassland with scrub areas providing vital habitats for breeding, migrant and overwintering birds. The area is also noted for its butterflies.
These high quality natural habitats are of great importance for a wide range of protected species, particularly bats, reptiles and birds.
A preliminary ecological appraisal involves a survey of all areas that will be impacted by a development to assess the suitability and quality of the habitats for protected species and to determine the habitat types present and their ecological value. In this case, the survey area was an improved grassland paddock with tree and defunct hedgerow boundaries.
The surveyor mapped the whole site using Phase 1 habitat Codes and listed any flora and fauna species present. These results were then compared to the development proposal to assess the impacts that could arise and to provide mitigation, compensation and enhancement strategies to ensure a long-term biodiversity gain on-site.
Due to the generally low impact of the development, and the plans to introduce additional hedgerow planting as well as other biodiversity measures, it was assessed that the development would not have an overall negative impact on the environment.
Precautionary working measures were recommended to ensure that no animals would be harmed during the vegetation and rubble clearance along the boundary. This approach is suitable when the risk of harm to wildlife is very low, and further surveys would be disproportionate. In this case, the small area of vegetation and rubble pile could be home to low numbers of common reptiles.
Carrying out the clearance when the weather is warm, and under ecological supervision would ensure no animals would be killed or injured.
What happens next
The preliminary ecological appraisal demonstrated that the development will not have any long-term negative impacts on biodiversity and gave mitigation and enhancement recommendations to ensure wildlife is protected during the development and provided with additional habitat post development.
This satisfies the planning department’s duty to biodiversity and can allow the development to continue unimpeded providing recommendations are followed. More often than not, these recommendations are written into planning conditions to ensure compliance.