The aim of this supplementary document is to provide the supporting survey methodology, relevant legislation and bibliography used for the creation of the main Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) report.
The intention is to enable the main report to be as easy as possible to read, to help with understanding the conclusions, impacts, and recommendations made.
The PEA report describes the baseline ecological conditions at the site, evaluates habitats within the survey area in the context of the wider environment and describes the suitability of those habitats for notable or protected species. It identifies possible ecological constraints as a result of the proposed development and summarises the requirements for further surveys and mitigation measures to inform subsequent mitigation proposals, achieve planning or other statutory consent and to comply with wildlife legislation.
To achieve this, the following steps have been taken:
A survey plan and location map are presented in the report, along with a proposal plan (where available).
The desk study undertaken included a review of statutory designated sites, notable habitats and granted European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) and notable species records held on magic.gov.uk database. An assessment of the surrounding landscape structure was also completed using aerial images from Google Earth and OS maps.
Additionally, to conform to best practice guidelines biological records data (BRD) within a suitable radius of the site will need to be obtained from the local biological records centre. If obtained, these are analysed and summarised in the conclusions and recommendations part of the report where relevant.
The data search is confidential information that is not suitable for public release and has been analysed and summarised for presentation in this report. They can be provided on request by the LPA.
The desk study methodology as outlined here has been carried out, and any relevant findings regarding sites, habitats or species will be incorporated into the conclusions and recommendations section of this report for ease of reading.
The methodology for the Phase 1 habitat survey is based on the best practice publication UK Habitat Classification Documents (UKHAB) V2.01 (July 2023). All land parcels are described and mapped according to the appropriate habitat classification including primary and secondary codes where required. Where appropriate, target notes provide supplementary information on habitat conditions, features too small to map to scale, species composition, structure and management.
During the survey, habitats were assessed for their suitability to support protected species, and field signs indicating their presence recorded. The assessment takes into consideration the findings of the desk study, the habitat conditions on site and in the context of the surrounding landscape, and the ecology of the protected species. The likelihood of the presence of protected species is ranked; the habitats on site are evaluated against their likelihood to provide suitable habitat for protected species.
Where physical evidence of the presence of protected species is indeterminate during the survey, the habitats on site are evaluated as to their likelihood to provide sheltering, roosting, foraging, basking or nesting habitat etc.
It should be noted that whilst every effort has been made to describe the baseline conditions within the survey area, and evaluate these features, this report does not provide a complete characterisation of the site. This assessment provides a preliminary view of the likelihood of protected species being present. This is based on suitability of the habitats on the site and in the wider landscape, the ecology and biology of species as currently understood, and the known distribution of species as recovered during the searches of historical biological records.
Any limitations specific to the survey (e.g. access to the site or inside buildings, biotic or abiotic factors (e.g., wasps, asbestos) visibility, safety, or adverse weather) are discussed in the report in the conclusions, impacts and recommendations table, and given the appropriate weighting.
National and European Legislation Afforded to Habitats
International Statutory Designations
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are sites of European importance and are designated under the EC Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive) and the EC Birds Directive 2009/147 /EC on the conservation of wild birds (the Wild Birds Directive) respectively. Both form part of the wider Natura 2000 network across Europe.
Under the Habitats Directive Article 3 requires the establishment of a network of important conservation sites (SACs) across Europe. Over 1000 animal and plant species, as well as 200 habitat types, listed in the directive’s annexes are protected in various ways:
Annex II species (about 900): core areas of their habitat are designated as Sites of Community importance (SCls) and included in the Natura 2000 network. These sites must be managed in accordance with the ecological needs of the species.
Annex IV species (over 400, including many Annex II species): a strict protection regime must be applied across their entire natural range, both within and outside Natura 2000 sites.
Annex V species (over 90): their exploitation and taking in the wild is compatible with maintaining them in a favourable conservation status.
SPAs are classified under Article 2 of the Directive 2009/147 /EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds both for rare bird species (as listed on Annex I) and for important migratory species.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) form the legal basis for the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives in terrestrial areas and territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles in England and Wales (including the inshore marine area) and to a limited extent in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Ramsar sites are designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, agreed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. The Convention covers all aspects of wetland conservation and recognises the importance of wetland ecosystems in relation to global biodiversity conservation. The Convention refers to wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peat/and or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”. However, they may also include riparian and coastal zones. Ramsar sites are statutorily protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended 01.04.1996) with further protection provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000.
Policy statements have been issued by the Government in England and Wales highlighting the special status of Ramsar sites. The Government in England and Wales has issued policy statements which ensure that Ramsar sites are afforded the same protection as areas designated under the EC Birds and Habitats Directives as part of the Natura 2000 network (e.g. SACs & SPAs). Further provisions for the protection and management of SSSls have been introduced by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are designated by nature conservation agencies in order to conserve key flora, fauna, geological or physio-geographical features within the UK. The original designations were under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 but SSSls were then re-designated under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). As well as reinforcing other national designations (including National Nature Reserves), the system also provides statutory protection for terrestrial and coastal sites which are important within the European Natura 2000 network and globally.
Local authorities in consultation with the relevant nature conservation agency can declare Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. LNRs are designated for flora, fauna or geological interest and are managed locally to retain these features and provide research, education and recreational opportunities.
All non-statutorily designated sites are referred to as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and can be designated by the local authority for supporting local conservation interest. Combined with statutory designation, these sites are considered within Local Development Frameworks under the Town and Country Planning system and are a material consideration during the determination of planning applications. The protection afforded to these sites varies depending on the local authority involved.
Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGs) are the most important geological and geomorphological areas outside of statutory designations. These sites are also a material consideration during the determination of planning applications.
The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 are designed to protect ‘important’ countryside hedgerows. Importance is defined by whether the hedgerow (a) has existed for 30 years or more; or (b) satisfies at least one of the criteria listed in Part II of Schedule 1 of the Regulations.
Under the Regulations, it is against the law to remove or destroy hedgerows on or adjacent to common land, village greens, SSSls (including all terrestrial SACs, NNRs and SPAs), LNRs, land used for agriculture or forestry and land used for the keeping or breeding of horses, ponies or donkeys without the permission of the local authority. Hedgerows ‘within or marking the boundary of the curtilage of a dwelling-house’ are excluded.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity by requiring the Secretary of State to take measures to maintain or restore wild species listed within the Regulations at a favourable conservation status.
The Regulations make it an offence (subject to exceptions) to deliberately capture, kill, disturb, or trade in the animals listed in Schedule 2, or pick, collect, cut, uproot, destroy, or trade in the plants listed in Schedule 5. However, these actions can be made lawful through the granting of licenses by the appropriate authorities. Licenses may be granted for a number of purposes (such as science and education, conservation, preserving public health and safety), but only after the appropriate authority is satisfied that there are no satisfactory alternatives and that such actions will have no detrimental effect on wild population of the species concerned.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981 (as amended) implements the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention 1979, implemented 1982) and implements the species protection requirements of EC Birds Directive 2009/147 /EC on the conservation of wild birds in Great Britain (the birds Directive). The WCA 1981 has been subject to a number of amendments, the most important of which are through the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act (2000).
Other legislative Acts affording protection to wildlife and their habitats include:
Badgers Me/es me/es are protected under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which makes it an offence to:
Effects on development works:
A development licence will be required from the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) for any development works likely to affect an active badger sett, or to disturb badgers whilst they occupy a sett. Guidance has been issued by the countryside agencies to define what would constitute a licensable activity. It is not possible to obtain a licence to translocate badgers.
With certain exceptions, all birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Sections 1-8 of the WCA. Among other things, this makes it an offence to:
Certain species of bird, for example the barn owl, bittern and kingfisher receive additional protection under Schedule 1 of the WCA and are commonly referred to as “Schedule 1” birds.
This affords them protection against:
Effects on development works:
Works should be planned to avoid the possibility of killing or injuring any wild bird or damaging or destroying their nests. The most effective way to reduce the likelihood of nest destruction in particular is to undertake work outside the main bird nesting season which typically runs from March to August. Where this is not feasible, it will be necessary to have any areas of suitable habitat thoroughly checked for nests prior to vegetation clearance.
Schedule 1 birds are additionally protected against disturbance during the nesting season. It’s an offence to disturb dependent young, at or near the nest.
Thus, it will be necessary to ensure that no potentially disturbing works are undertaken in the vicinity of the nest. The most effective way to avoid disturbance is to postpone works until the young have fledged. If this is not feasible, it may be possible to maintain an appropriate buffer zone or standoff around the nest.
The sand lizard Lacerta agilis, smooth snake Coronel/a austriaca, natterjack toad Epidalea calamita, pool frog Pelophylax lessonae and great crested newt Triturus cristatus receive full protection under Habitats Regulations through their inclusion on Schedule 2. Regulation 41 prohibits:
With the exception of the pool frog, these species are also listed on Schedule 5 of the WCA and they are additionally protected from:
Other native species of reptiles are protected solely under Schedule 5, Section 9(1) & (5) of the WCA,
i.e. the adder Vipera berus, grass snake Natrix natrix, common lizard Zootoca vivipara and slow-worm
Anguis fragilis. It is prohibited to:
Effects on development works:
A European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) issued by the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) will be required for works likely to affect the breeding sites or resting places amphibian and reptile species protected under Habitats Regulations. A licence will also be required for operations liable to result in a level of disturbance which might impair their ability to undertake those activities mentioned above (e.g. survive, breed, rear young and hibernate). The licences are to allow derogation from the relevant legislation, but also to enable appropriate mitigation measures to be put in place and their efficacy to be monitored.
Although not licensable, appropriate mitigation measures may also be required to prevent the intentional killing or injury of adder, grass snake, common lizard and slow worm, thus avoiding contravention of the WCA.
The water vole Arvicola terrestris is fully protected under Schedule 5 of the WCA. This makes it an offence to:
Effects on development works:
If development works are likely to affect habitats known to support water voles, the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) must be consulted. It must be shown that means by which the proposal can be re-designed to avoid contravening the legislation have been fully explored e.g. the use of alternative sites, appropriate timing of works to avoid times of the year in which water voles are most vulnerable, and measures to ensure minimal habitat loss. Conservation licences for the capture and translocation of water voles may be issued by the relevant countryside agency for the purpose of development activities if it can be shown that the activity has been properly planned and executed and thereby contributes to the conservation of the population. The licence will then only be granted to a suitably experienced person if it can be shown that adequate surveys have been undertaken to inform appropriate mitigation measures. Identification and preparation of a suitable receptor site will be necessary prior to the commencement of works.
Otters Lutra lutra are fully protected under the Conservation Regulations through their inclusion on Schedule 2. Regulation 41 prohibits:
Otters are also currently protected under the WCA through their inclusion on Schedule 5. Under this Act, they are additionally protected from:
Effects on development works:
A European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) issued by the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) will be required for works likely to affect otter breeding or resting places (often referred to as holt, couches or dens) or for operations likely to result in a level of disturbance which might impair their ability to undertake those activities mentioned above (e.g. survive, breed, and rear young). The licence is to allow derogation from the relevant legislation but also to enable appropriate mitigation measures to be put in place and their efficacy to be monitored.
All species are fully protected by Habitats Regulations 2010 as they are listed on Schedule 2. Regulation 41 prohibits:
Bats are afforded the following additional protection through the WCA as they are included on Schedule 5:
Effects on development works:
A European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) issued by the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) will be required for works are likely to affect a bat roost or an operation which are likely to result in an illegal level of disturbance to the species will require an EPSM licence. The licence is to allow derogation from the legislation through the application of appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring.
Hazel dormice Muscardinus avellanarius are fully protected under Habitats Regulations through their inclusion on Schedule 2. Regulation 41 prohibits:
Dormice are also protected under the WCA through their inclusion on Schedule 5. Under this Act, they are additionally protected from:
Effects on development works:
Works which are liable to affect a dormice habitat or an operation which are likely to result in an illegal level of disturbance to the species will require a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) issued by the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales (NB: Hazel Dormouse are entirely absent from Scotland)). The licence is to allow derogation from the legislation through the application of appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring.
There is a considerable amount of legislation in place in an attempt to protect the White-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes. This species is listed under the European Union’s (EU) Habitat and Species Directive and is listed under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This makes it an offence to:
It is also classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. As a result of this and other relevant crayfish legislation such as the Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996, a series of licences are needed for working with White-clawed and non-native crayfish. These are:
Effects on development works:
The relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) will need to be consulted about development which could impact on a watercourse or wetland known to support white clawed crayfish. Conservation licences for the capture and translocation of crayfish can be issued if it can be shown that the activity has been properly planned and executed and thereby contributes to the conservation of the population. The licence will only be granted to a suitably experienced person if it can be shown that adequate surveys have been undertaken to inform appropriate mitigation measures. Identification and preparation of a suitable receptor site will be necessary prior to the commencement of the works.
All wild mammals are protected against intentional acts of cruelty under the above legislation. This makes it an offence to mutilate, kick, beat, nail or otherwise impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drown, drag or asphyxiate any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering.
To avoid possible contravention, due care and attention should be taken when carrying out works (for example operations near burrows or nests) with the potential to affect any wild mammal in this way, regardless of whether they are legally protected through other conservation legislation or not.
Additional mammals protected under Schedule 4 of the Conservation of habitats and Species Regulation 2017
The prohibited means of capturing or killing mammals on schedule 4 or any European protected species of animal e.g. mountain hair, pine martin, pole cats, and seals are —
(a)the use of blind or mutilated animals as live decoys;
(c)electrical and electronic devices capable of killing or stunning;
(d)artificial light sources;
(e)mirrors and other dazzling devices;
(f)devices for illuminating targets;
(g)sighting devices for night shooting comprising an electronic image magnifier or image converter;
(i)nets which are non-selective according to their principle or their conditions of use;
(j)traps which are non-selective according to their principle or their conditions of use;
(l)poisons and poisoned or anaesthetic bait;
(m)gassing or smoking out; and
(n)semi-automatic or automatic weapons with a magazine capable of holding more than two rounds of ammunition.
With certain exceptions, all wild plants are protected under the WCA. This makes it an offence for an ‘unauthorised’ person to intentionally (or recklessly in Scotland) uproot wild plants. An authorised person can be the owner of the land on which the action is taken, or anybody authorised by them.
Certain rare species of plant, for example some species of orchid, are also fully protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This prohibits any person from:
Effects on development works:
A European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) will be required from the relevant countryside agency (i.e. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage) for works which are likely to affect species of planted listed on Schedule 5 of the Conservation or Habitats and Species
Regulations 2010. The licence is to allow derogation from the legislation through the application of appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring.
Part II of Schedule 9 of the WCA lists non-native invasive plant species for which it is a criminal offence in England and Wales to plant or cause to grow in the wild due to their impact on native wildlife. Species included:
The full list can be found at:
Effects on development works:
It is not an offence for plants listed in Part II of Schedule 9 of the WCA 1981 to be present on the development site, however, it is an offence to cause them to spread. Therefore, if any of the species are present on site and construction activities may result in further spread (e.g. earthworks, vehicle movements) then it will be necessary to design and implement appropriate mitigation prior to construction commencing.
Under the Weeds Act 1959 any landowner or occupier may be required prevent the spread of certain ‘injurious weeds’ including (but not limited to):
Effects on development works:
It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with a notice requiring such action to be taken. The Ragwort Control Act 2003 establishes a ragwort control code of practice as common ragwort is poisonous to horses and other livestock. This code provides best practice guidelines and is not legally binding.
The Environment Act 2021 (EA 2021) received Royal Assent on 9 November 2021 and is expected to become fully mandated within the next couple of years. The Act principally creates a post Brexit framework to protect and enhance the natural environment. Through amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Act will require all planning permissions in England (subject to exemptions which is likely to include householder applications) to be granted subject to a new general pre-commencement condition that requires approval of a biodiversity net gain plan. This will ensure the delivery of a minimum of 10% measurable biodiversity net gain. The principal tool to calculate this will be the Detra Biodiversity 3.0 Metric. Works to enhance habitats can be carried out either onsite or offsite or through the purchase of ‘biodiversity credits’ from the Secretary of State. However, this flexibility may be removed (subject to regulations) if the onsite habitat is ‘irreplaceable’. Both onsite and offsite enhancements must be maintained for at least 30 years after completion of a development (which period may be amended).
The National Planning Policy Framework promotes sustainable development. The Framework specifies the need for protection of designated sites and priority habitats and species. An emphasis is also made on the need for ecological infrastructure through protection, restoration and re-creation. The protection and recovery of priority habitats and species (considered likely to be those listed as species of principal importance under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006) is also listed as a requirement of planning policy.
In determining a planning application, planning authorities should aim to conserve and enhance biodiversity by ensuring that: designated sites are protected from harm; there is appropriate mitigation or compensation where significant harm cannot be avoided; measurable gains in biodiversity in and around developments are incorporated; and planning permission is refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats including aged or veteran trees and also ancient woodland.
Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, requires all public bodies to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions. This is commonly referred to as the ‘biodiversity duty’.
Section 41 of the Act requires the Secretary of State to publish a list of habitats and species which are of ‘principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity’. This list is intended to assist decision makers such as public bodies in implementing their duty under Section 40 of the Act. Under the Act these habitats and species are regarded as a material consideration in determining planning applications. A developer must show that their protection has been adequately addressed within a development proposal.
In December 2016 Natural England officially introduced the four licensing policies throughout England. The four policies seek to achieve better outcomes for European Protected Species (EPS) and reduce unnecessary costs, delays and uncertainty that can be inherent in the current standard EPS licensing system. The policies are summarised as follows:
The four policies have been designed to have a net benefit for EPS by improving populations overall and not just protecting individuals within development sites. Most notably Natural England now recognises that the Habitats Regulations legal framework now applies to ‘local populations’ of EPS and not individuals/site populations.
Arbtech Consulting Limited has prepared this report for the sole use of the above-named client or their agents in accordance with our General Terms and Conditions, under which our services are performed. It is expressly stated that no other warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the professional advice included in this report or any other services provided by us. This report may not be relied upon by any other party without the prior and express written agreement of Arbtech Consulting Limited. The assessments made assume that the sites and facilities will continue to be used for their current purpose without significant change. The conclusions and recommendations contained in this report are based upon information provided by third parties. Information obtained from third parties has not been independently verified by Arbtech Consulting Limited.
© This report is the copyright of Arbtech Consulting Limited. Any unauthorised reproduction or usage by any person other than the addressee is strictly prohibited.
This assessment has been designed to meet:
The work involved in preparing and implementing all ecological surveys, impact assessments and measures for avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement should be proportionate to the predicted degree of risk to biodiversity and to the nature and scale of the proposed development. Consequently, the decision-maker should only request supporting information and conservation measures that are relevant, necessary and material to the application in question. Similarly, the decision-maker and their consultees should ensure that any comments and advice made over an application are also proportionate.
This approach is enshrined in Government planning guidance, for example, the National Planning Policy Framework for England 2019 paragraphs 174 and 175. The desk studies and field surveys undertaken to provide a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) might in some cases be all that is necessary. (BS 42020, 2013)
In consequence of the scale and intensity of the proposed development, the low impact on ecological receptors identified through both the site survey and search of local biological records, and the passive interface with the mitigation hierarchy, this plan-led report is considered adequate and proportionate. It communicates all relevant information necessary to determine a planning application or support the recommendations for further surveys.