Ecological Consultants in Shropshire
Think you might need an ecology survey in Shropshire?
Shropshire is renowned for its countryside and rich biodiversity. However, habitat loss has caused a significant downward trend in the numbers of species that were once found in abundance including hedgehogs, curlew, and dormice.
Moreover, the expansion of towns such as Ellesmere, Shrewsbury and Telford have all had a dramatic impact on countryside habitats that, in some cases, have stood for centuries.
Therefore, understanding the impact your development has on biodiversity through an ecological report, preserving existing habitats, and restoring those that are lost will be a major factor in the granting or refusal of planning consents.
One example of this commitment to conservation and restoration is the River Clun Catchment. Concerns have been raised due to high quantities of phosphate entering the water course from private residences and business premises as well as from livestock.
Not only that, but this area has also been identified as an ecological lynchpin, critical to the survival and thriving of otters, salmon, and a particular, rare freshwater mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). Understandably, proposed developments in this area must robustly justify any intrusion into this vital ecological feature to the local authority.
However, environmental protection and development aren’t mutually exclusive. There’s clear evidence in the Shropshire local plan that’s due to be signed off and adopted in 2022 that investment and growth are on the agenda.
The local plan includes provision for over 30,000 new homes to be built, for example. Also, councillors have spoken favourably about economic growth in the county, and attracting new businesses and investment into predominantly rural towns including Market Drayton and Ludlow.
This all indicates that, provided developers and homeowners comply with their environmental obligations (and part of this may include an ecology survey), there are plenty of opportunities to be found in Shropshire.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
For the avoidance of doubt, if your development proposal is likely to involve disturbing, damaging, or destroying ecological features, it’s sensible to consider procuring an ecological survey early in the design process, ideally around RIBA plan of work stage 0-2.
Failing to do so could lead to planning permission being refused and delays to your development schedule. Go ahead anyway, and aside from enforcement action from your LPA, you also run the risk of criminal prosecution under legislation put in place to safeguard legally protected habitats and species.
Even if you don’t think your development has any material impact on the environment at first glance, it’s still something you should consider. Take, for instance, the Pine Marten.
This little mustelid is making a return to Shropshire, and to say they roam is an understatement. Some of the specimens that have been seen are thought to have come from as far away as Gloucester travelling somewhere in the region of 50 miles.
So, whilst a Pine Marten might not be present on your site at all times, there may be evidence that one is using your site as a habitat intermittently. If this is the case, it’s possible that the local authority will expect mitigation to be put in place as a condition of granting planning permission. That’s quite an extreme example, but you get the idea.
With this in mind, if you’re considering submitting a planning application for a development small or large, rural or urban a detailed preliminary ecological appraisal report could give you the information and advice you need to secure planning consent.
Phase 1 Habitat and Protected Species Survey
There are a range of ecology surveys available to suit the needs of your site and development. However, the one that is suitable for most sites and developments is the Phase 1 Habitat Survey. This is less onerous than e.g. an full ecological impact assessment, and it can form the basis of any demand for a biodiversity net gain assessment the LPA might place on you.
The ins and outs of your biodiversity obligations can feel overwhelming, so you’ll be relieved to know that your ecology survey will follow a straightforward, transparent process.
First, your surveyor will visit your site and create an index of every species of plant or animal present. Once they’ve done that, they’ll map the potential or actual habitats they’ve discovered and grade them from using a simple system.
The result of this grading will inform the degree of justification and/or mitigation you’ll need to satisfy your planning Case Officer so they can grant you planning permission. In some instances, where there is a risk of habitat disruption, further surveys may be required (reptiles, newts, birds, rare plants, etc). On the other hand, where the risk to habitats is found to be minimal or acceptably low, the report itself may be enough to satisfy the local authority.
Simply put, your ecologist is there to give the Planning Officer the information they need to justify their decision at committee, or delegated powers. The more robust this information is, the higher the likelihood of you receiving a favourable result.
Speaking of planning permission, we have secured hundreds of planning consents for our clients in Shropshire and the border counties.
Arbtech – Hundreds of 5 Star Reviews Online
Our Shropshire ecologists, Melissa, Louise and Elen all have a superb understanding of the landscape features and habitat matrices in the county, backed up by excellent links with the various local authorities.
We never use subcontractors. In real terms, this means we can guarantee your consultant will be a specialist at solving ecology problems with a view to gaining planning consent. You can be sure they’ll be conversant with the local plan and aware of the local interest groups that regularly object to planning applications.
They’ll also have the reach, resources, and authority of a national operator behind them.
We only work with people who need to get through planning, and it’s all we’ve done for well over a decade. So, whatever ecology problem you’re facing, we’ve probably seen it before and found the solution.
Shropshire Council. 2014. When is an Ecological Assessment required? [Online]. Available from: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Shropshire Council. 2020. Development within the River Culn Catchment. [Online]. Available from: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Shropshire Council. N.D. Biodiversity Action Plan. Available from: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/environment/biodiversity-ecology-and-planning/biodiversity-action-plan/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Shropshire Live. 2020. Shropshire Council seeks views on growth strategies for key market towns. [Online]. Available from: https://www.shropshirelive.com/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Shropshire What’s On. N.D. Extremely rare Pine Martens return to Shropshire. [Online]. Available from: https://www.whatsonlive.co.uk/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Shropshire Wildlife Trust. 2019. No let-up in net loss of UK nature. [Online]. Available from: http://shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]
Trigg, K. 2020. Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Church Stretton housing sites dropped from development plans. [Online]. Available from: https://www.shropshirestar.com/ [Accessed 19 January 2021]