High Habitat Suitability Throughout Shropshire
Although Shropshire has always been renowned for its countryside and rich biodiversity, the expansion of towns such as Ellesmere, Shrewsbury and Telford have all had a dramatic impact on habitats that – in some cases – had stood for centuries. As a developer, you have a duty to understand the impact your planning project could have on the standard of biodiversity and the safety of local protected species. It would only be possible to do this correctly by arranging an ecology survey and using the following ecology report as a guide to preserving existing habitats and securing planning consent.
With insightful support of relevant statutory bodies such as the Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT), Shropshire Council has shown a commitment to the conservation, restoration and enhancement of ecological features all over the county. For instance, significant changes were initiated when there began to be increasing concerns over the high quantities of phosphate entering the water course from private residences, business premises and livestock at the River Clun Catchment. Such changes shouldn’t, however, be taken as an indication that the local authorities are outlawing development, with the Shropshire local plan clearly stating an immediate interest in investment and growth.
In 2022 alone, the local plan stated an intention to build more than 30,000 new homes, and councillors frequently speak favourably about economic growth in the county and attracting new businesses by investing heavily in predominantly rural towns such as Market Drayton and Ludlow. Considering the number of opportunities for development in Shropshire, providing developers and homeowners comply with their environmental obligations by organising the necessary ecological surveys, they should avoid costly delays, secure planning permission, and be able to continue their development with few changes.
Local Animals and Plants Considered Valuable
While habitat loss has caused a significant downward trend in the numbers of species that were once found in abundance including hedgehogs, curlew and dormice, Shropshire remains a destination for a wide variety of protected species. As well as the common animals such as bats and badgers, the lakes, marshes, swamps and wetlands broaden the listed species to include marine species such as otters, salmon and rare freshwater mussels.
Even if you personally don’t believe that your proposed development could have a material impact on the environment, that doesn’t mean you should disregard any possible need for an ecological survey. Certain species may go undetected or aren’t present on the site at all times. Pine marten populations, for example, have been making a return to Shropshire from surrounding counties as distant as Gloucestershire. Whenever it turns out that pine martens are using development sites intermittently, the local authority will expect parameters in place to mitigate accordingly.
Ecological Services to Accompany Planning Applications
To suit the needs of your site and project, several different types of ecological services are available. More commonly than not, a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) or extended phase 1 habitat survey will suffice, particularly as it will support the planning process. All animals and plants on the development site will be evaluated during a PEA survey, and the ecologist will then gauge whether an ecology report featuring suggested changes is enough or if further information is required.
In addition to other overarching ecology surveys such as an ecological impact assessment (EcIA), the discovery of animals or plants that are considered rare or valuable will often lead to the need for certain protected species surveys. From a long list of possible assessments, animal surveys may include bat surveys, great crested newt surveys or water vole surveys, whereas plant surveys may include giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys.
After we undertake surveys of any nature, we create a report to explain the inspection process and the results of the assessment at length. If simple mitigation steps are sufficient, it could reference the use of amphibian fencing, bat boxes or pitfall traps. Alternatively, further surveys may be needed, and it will be made clear what exactly the developer needs to do to satisfy the conditions of the local planning authority. Once all of the requirements have been ticked off, the ecological survey report will be ready to be submitted to the local council as supporting documentation in their planning application.
Contact Arbtech’s Ecological Consultancy
Over the years, Arbtech has been able to grow its collection of arboricultural and ecological services while simultaneously honing the effectiveness of the fundamental assessments we’ve always provided. A preliminary ecological appraisal or ecological impact assessment are baseline ecological surveys, and as such, our team of knowledgeable, licensed and trained ecological consultants have mastered them. Not only that, but by keeping in touch with the latest standards from the Environment Agency, CIEEM and DEFRA, we ensure that we remain ahead of the curve with the service we offer.
If you have proven or suspected occupancy of protected species on your Shropshire development site, you would be advised to reach out to our team so you can give us all of your details and receive a free quote for an ecology survey. Call us, email us, fill out our quick quote form or visit our contact page for more communication options, and from there, our administration team can point you in the right direction. We can then decide a date to carry out the necessary ecology surveys and assist you with securing a successful planning application from the local authorities.