Conflicts Between Ecological Features and the Planning Process
From the wetlands and ancient woodlands to the developing urban centres, Essex provides a broad range of habitats to support biodiversity. Various local authorities are clearly committed to preserving this, with green infrastructure and development set as clear priorities, retained spaces for wildlife to thrive, and easy access to nature for the people who live, work and visit the county. Novel measures are also in place to protect and preserve local ecological features, such as the special roadside verges that feature in Uttlesford and more than 100 other sites nationwide.
An overt prioritisation of ecology may appear to be a barrier to development, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Biodiversity holds a significant subjective and objective value, and as such, the local council in Essex is likely to preserve that with a view to initiating biodiversity enhancement where possible. Any environment that contains flora and fauna in abundance is pleasing to many, and it often reflects favourably in both property and land prices and attracts significant investment as developments create new, well-connected and pleasant places to live and work.
Over the next two decades, large development and regeneration projects are planned for the county of Essex, and the importance of preservation and protection of local ecology will be integrated into approved planning proposals. Any time a development could infringe on local biodiversity in any way, an ecology survey will be a strict requirement that will guarantee the availability of the correct information to meet the needs of the local authority and contribute to successful planning applications.
Refusing to acknowledge a need for ecological surveys and leaving it to chance will not only disrupt your development but also more than likely incur significant costs and potentially even lead to jail time. As a developer staging a planning project or a homeowner making changes to your property, ecology surveys may feel like an unexpected and unwelcome expense. It is far more pragmatic, however, to view the need for additional assessments to support planning as an investment, particularly if it means removing any obstacles that would otherwise harm your application for planning permission.
Essex Protected Species and Various Habitats
It may come as a surprise to discover the sheer variety of wildlife that makes the towns and cities across Essex their home. Otters roam wide territories in excess of 10 kilometres, and as population numbers increase, they spread outwards to cover the wetlands situated all over rural Essex. The numerous towns and villages located beside the River Colne are also filled with countless protected species, demonstrating that the more urbanised areas can be just as appetising as the typically rural ones.
Among the protected species that appear frequently in Essex are badgers, barn owls, bats, breeding and wintering birds, dormice, great crested newts, otters, water voles, white-clawed crayfish and many different variations of reptiles and invertebrates. All listed animals and plants are safeguarded by the Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT), encouraging education to residents, managing the local discovery parks and nature reserves, and stepping in any time rare or valuable species are under threat.
Professional Ecological Assessments
At an early stage in the planning process, an ecology survey will take all present features into consideration before judging the most suitable next steps to ensure that nothing of value is harmed as a result of the proposed development. Although an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) may be applicable depending on the circumstances, a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) / extended phase 1 habitat survey is often the go-to assessment for carrying out an overview of all present animals and plants.
Once an ecological surveyor has visited the site to look over animals, plants and habitats, they can begin to work out whether any changes are needed before planning projects can continue and planning consents can be granted. If other surveys are needed before the ecologist can provide a conclusive decision, they can conduct any number of protected species surveys. Examples of an ecology survey dedicated to certain ecological features include giant hogweed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys for plants and bat surveys or great crested newt surveys for animals.
Other assessments that may be needed to support planning include a biodiversity assessment to meet the BNG mandate, tree surveys if trees are present on the development site, and any number of environmental management plans or habitat management plans. As soon as all necessary inspections are complete, the ecological consultant can create an ecology report detailing the ecology survey at length. As it will contain extensive data from the inspection, the ecology survey report will be recognised as sufficient evidence to confirm to the local planning authority that any issues regarding protected species have been dealt with and the planning applications can be given the green light.
Speak to Our Administration Team
Our ecological consultancy is a hive of insight and expertise, helped by an advanced understanding of both district and county planning departments. Each licensed, trained and qualified ecologist stands as a full member of relevant organisations and societies, enabling them to remain at the forefront of changes and updates to ecology, planning and everything in between. By choosing Arbtech, you are effectively getting all of the benefits of a niche practice, but with the reach and authority of a national operator.
The amalgamation of skills throughout our team makes it possible for us to offer a phase 1 preliminary ecological appraisal, biodiversity assessment, multiple protected species surveys and more. We can also step in to assist with protected species licence applications to Natural England if one is needed before you can relocate animals, destroy habitats or form new habitats. And with ecological consultants all over the country, we can ensure that clients can receive the required ecological surveys – Essex or otherwise.
You may need a preliminary ecological appraisal to bolster your planning application or another ecology survey to satisfy a separate purpose. Either way, we would suggest getting in touch with our team, as it means allowing us to give you a free quote based on the details of your site and project. If you are happy to proceed, let us know and we can decide on an ideal date for the ecology survey you need. You will then be sent your completed ecology report, and once it is passed on to the local planning authority, it can provide your local planning officer with the assurances needed to gain planning permission.