From £599

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal / Phase 1 Habitat Survey

The most popular option. This is a comprehensive level of survey suitable for most sites and developments. It is a catch-all assessment for a variety of species of flora and fauna. It is often referred to as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal.

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Why Choose Arbtech?

Arbtech are the best asset you can possibly have when you need ecology or tree surveys to help you obtain planning permission.

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An Arbtech Habitat Survey

Phase 1 Habitat Survey

In a significant majority of circumstances, it can be advantageous for developers to harness an understanding of any and all ecological features on their site, particularly if they are currently unaware of them.

As a starting point in any development, a Phase 1 Habitat Survey or Preliminary Ecological Appraisal will provide crucial insights to developers, inform them on additional surveys needed on the site, bolster planning applications and enable the project to move forwards.

What is a Phase 1 Habitat Survey?

Also known as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA), an Extensive Phase 1 Habitat Survey is the baseline ecological assessment survey. It focuses primarily on comprehensively analysing a development site for the presence of plants animals of all types at the earliest stage prior to any ecological features suffering disturbance from the project.

A form of scoping survey, a Phase 1 Habitat Survey carries the aim of indexing anything of biodiversity value on the site, including wildlife habitats and plant species. Not only does this confirm the presence of ecological features on the site, but also the absence of everything else, eliminating potential ecological constraints and removing the need for further surveys.

Why do I Need a Phase 1 Habitat Survey?

Within the ODPM Circular 06/05 and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – central government legislation and planning policy documents that specifically deal with biodiversity and conservation – it is clearly stated that local planning officers are required to use the applicant’s consideration over the preservation and enhancement of protected species of wildlife and plant life during the decision to grant or deny planning applications.

It is difficult to achieve this, however, without making the results of ecological surveys available as part of pre-application discussions. Through a Phase 1 Habitat Survey, you are able to demonstrate evidence of the policy in action, as well as an understanding of potential ecological constraints and support of protected species in your design process. Additionally, the planning officer will be unable to reject the planning application on the grounds of insufficient evidence and must instead deliberate it without delay.

Providing your local planning authority with a comprehensive report from a licensed and qualified ecological surveyor will outline the risk to notable species of animal and plant on the site, provide advice for alterations that could cause less disturbance to ecological features, remove any concern of potential impacts on animal habitats and valuable plants, and simplify planning applications. Likewise, a Phase 1 Habitat Survey can highlight further information in the form of mitigation measures, ecological improvement features and compensatory habitat enhancements that would indicate the benefits of your development.

Phase 1 Habitat Survey Methodology

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s 2010 publication ‘Handbook for Phase 1 Survey‘ sets out the main elements of the methodology for the assessment and categorisation of various habitats present on your site, which means your report should contain roughly the same information (or at least refer to the same data collected) no matter who undertakes the survey.

Guidelines for Preliminary Ecological Appraisal

A preliminary ecological appraisal

How to do a Phase 1 Habitat Survey

The first step is have a chat to you about your site and to establish that you do actually need a habitat survey. It may be that from your description we can move you directly onto the relevant single-species survey and in doing so, bypass any unnecessary time wasted and expense.

The method for undertaking an extended phase 1 habitat survey (preliminary ecological appraisal) is typically split into two sections: an ecological desk study and a walkover survey. During the desk study, the ecological consultant will collect site information, clarifying certain factors such as whether the plot of land is listed as one of the UK’s many designated sites. At this point, they will also look into species records and information around habitats such as species distribution. In the second part of the preliminary ecological appraisal, the survey will visit the site at the optimum times and index every species of plant and animal habitats present on the site, and in the case of legally protected species, close to it.

You will also require, as part of your extended phase 1 habitat survey, something called biological records data. This will normally (though not always) be purchased from a third party, such as a record centre or wildlife trust.

They will produce a habitat map that contains standardised designations for various habitat types (e.g. ‘tall ruderal vegetation’ – there are around one hundred such classifications and each has its own colour and hatching pattern on the map) and detail, such as target notes about specific areas of biodiversity value or interest (e.g. ‘Target Note 1: bat droppings found in Barn 2’).

At Arbtech, we produce your habitat map – a plan drawing of your site with layers of information overlaid – using QGIS, a widely used geospatial information system.

This information will be set in the context of the biological records data you need to obtain from one of the following bodies; your LPA, a local wildlife trust, or the National Biodiversity Network.

There are other interest groups and not-for-profit organisations that hold data, such as bat groups, but that level of detail is rarely necessary for an extended phase 1. With all this data coming together, we then need to simplify it and grade your site according to ecological issues and any potential risks it poses to species and habitats present.

The ‘species potential’ classification system that Arbtech use to determine if your development proposals pose a threat to protected species or habitats follows below:

Species Habitat Potential Classification

Read the full report that table was taken from. As you can see, the table is straightforward and puts the habitat present on your site into one of the five categories. Generally speaking, sites with high (and occasionally medium) potential habitat or better will require sound justification for the development and potentially, further surveys. Those with low or negligible species potential will normally continue without further consideration and will no longer require the support of an ecologist.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Report

Our output from a preliminary ecological appraisal / extended phase 1 habitat survey is a scientific report; including a habitat map complete with target notes and identified ecological constraints; an appendix containing a species list; summaries of legislation that protects species relevant to your site; and a commentary of the biological records in the context of your development proposals.

Phase 1 Habitat Survey Example

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Cost

The cost varies according to the location and size of your site, which we confirm to you before placing an order, and is the only disbursement you should expect to incur.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Guidance

Phase 1 Habitat Survey Services

If you would like to get a free quote for your preliminary ecological appraisal, just give us a call or fill in the form above. We’ll provide you with a free, no obligation quote and if you like what you see, we’ll get your project started in no time.

Our Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Consultants

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Common Questions

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Extended phase 1 habitat surveys / preliminary ecological appraisals can be undertaken at any time of the year, though the identification of less common of flowering plant species is made much easier within the optimum time of late March and mid October. In all probability though, your site will have few if any rare and unusual plants, at least if our experience of thousands of lowland extended phase 1s is anything to go by.
If you have buildings within your site, we offer a value-added service that few other consultants will match. With Arbtech, your preliminary ecological appraisal includes a scoping bat survey assessment for free, saving you money and time, and reducing the likelihood of unexpected ecological issues or your local planning authority throwing up more hurdles at the eleventh hour.

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