Ecology Surveys in Birmingham: Ecological Assistance

Both rural and urban areas can act as a home to various protected species, and as such, developments in Birmingham and other parts of the West Midlands are likely to require an ecology survey before a planning application can realistically be considered.

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Rural Sections of Birmingham

Moulded from industrial roots, Birmingham was formerly recognised as the world’s first manufacturing town. It became a city in 1889 and stands as the largest urban area by population and size in the West Midlands region and the fourth largest in the UK for the same attributes. The city of Birmingham has offered a lot to British culture, with several recognisable football teams in and around the centre, and it was also the origin of an extensive list of famous bands and musicians.

Although Birmingham ranks third for the most urbanised parts of the UK, it actually has more greenspace than Paris, and like many cities, has undergone a recent emphasis from the local authorities to show dedication to supporting biodiversity. From the natural sections of Birmingham, many rare and valuable species of animals and plants call the city their home, including bitterns, godwits, red-crested pochards, and common rosefinches to name a few.

Methods of Preventing Harm from Coming to Protected Species

A location will be deemed suitable for each listed species based on a selection of factors, such as climate, habitat suitability and available prey. That effectively means that while there are species such as bats that appear practically anywhere, certain species with heightened requirements such as red squirrels may not inhabit areas as freely, and other species from the longlist of potential options may or may not be present depending on any range of different variables.

Under UK law, named protected species are protected by specific legislation, including the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Such rules prevent unnecessary harm of any nature, and relevant organisations also step in to assist, namely the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), Natural England and – specifically in Birmingham – the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust. Before land and property developments with any suspected or proven protected species can continue, the developer would first need to demonstrate consideration to them in the form of an ecology survey.

Reports to Confirm Adequate Mitigation or Compensation

In order to create an understanding of the development site, as well as any present ecological features and potential ecological constraints, an early ecology survey would be the natural first step. Several options are available – such as an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) – but more often than not, a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) / extended phase 1 habitat survey would be the desirable starting point. During a planned visit to the site, an ecological consultant will carry out a PEA survey by inspecting all areas, with a particular emphasis on protected animal and plant species.

It may be possible for the ecological surveyor to confirm that no protected species are present or initiate subtle appropriate mitigation, but if further surveys are needed to retrieve specific details about the animals or plants present such as badger surveys, bat surveys or water vole surveys, they will be required to undertake the focused protected species surveys. Many different variations of protected species surveys are available for barn owls, great crested newts, water voles and all other listed animals and plants. Assessments on bat roosts, roosting bats and local bat populations are common, and a bat survey can involve multiple inspections, such as bat scoping surveys / preliminary roost assessments and dusk entry and dawn re-entry surveys.

As soon as all ecological surveys are complete, the ecological consultants in charge of them will be able to recommend changes to meet the needs of the local council in Birmingham and support the planning application. Mitigation or compensation measures could include habitat creation, relocation, destruction or a combination of the above. It may even be applicable to alter the design of the planning project if nothing else can be done to show a compromise between the present species and the planning process. Through the ecology report, an application for planning permission should be viable in the eyes of the local planning authority.

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Any number of ecological services such as those listed above can be required to support the planning process on any development site, ranging from the depths of the countryside to even the most urbanised parts of Birmingham city centre. Our ecological consultancy has been providing expert advice and cost-effective solutions all year round for many years, both to private and professional clients. From conducting an early ecological assessment right the way through to carrying out a protected species survey on identified animals or plants, we can manage the entire process and do everything necessary to secure planning applications.

If your local planning authority has indicated that an ecology report is needed before you can achieve planning permission, or if you simply have concerns that ecological assets may be present, speak to our team about receiving a free quote. Once we’ve received further information from you regarding your site via a phone call, email or a completed quote form on our contact page, we can send you a quote. If you are satisfied with it, let us know and we can set a date for conducting ecology surveys on your Birmingham site. Our ecological consultancy can then begin to support you every step of the way, resulting in granted planning consent.

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