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Key Facts: PRA

Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA)

Thank you for the opportunity to support your development ambitions.

Arbtech is widely acknowledged to be the leading ecological consultancy in the UK, specialising exclusively in arboriculture and ecology for planning and development sector clients.

Blowing our trumpet; we have been established since 2005 and since then we have been there, done that and got the t-shirts for just about any tree or protected species issue you could possibly face on a site of the proposed development.

To give you confidence in that statement, here are some metrics (as of Q4, 2022):

We now have over 60 team members, and all are directly employed consultants. Known internally as ‘Arbtechers’, they have done literally thousands of surveys over careers spanning in some cases decades, in both the public and private practice sectors. All are well versed in planning policy and wildlife law, as well as having developed good working relationships with the local authorities in their regions.

How do we leverage local relationships and yet offer fixed fees throughout the UK, Crown Dependencies and Ireland? We do this by having approximately half of our staff based at home in strategic locations. So, whether you’re in Sunderland or Southampton, we can cut costs and delays for you at a fixed, all-inclusive price.

If you would like to talk to someone about your development ambitions for your site, please do ask – it’s what we’re here for.

Why do I need an ecologist?

You have been asked to provide a report to your local authority to compliment your planning application because:

  • The NPPF states that when determining your planning application your local authority should aim to conserve and enhance biodiversity by applying the following principle; if significant harm resulting from your development cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated or compensated for then planning permission should be refused. (National Planning Policy Framework: p.174-188).
  • DEFRA Circular 01/05 sets out that the presence of protected species at your site is a material consideration and that it is essential that the presence or otherwise of protected species and the extent that they may be affected by your proposed development is established before the planning permission is granted. (DEFRA Circular 01/2005 Biodiversity and geological conservation – statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system: p.98 to p.99).
  • BS42020 is the British Standard for ecology, planning and development. It describes in detail the hierarchy of avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement articulated in the NPPF. (British Standard BS42020 Biodiversity – Code of practice for planning and development (2013): p.6.2 detailing the adequacy of information to be submitted and p.6.13 on the need for composite reports to be submitted to draw together the conclusions of various ecological studies).

Therefore, we provide a quotation for a Preliminary Bat Roost Assessment (“PRA”), compliant to
British Standard 42020 (Biodiversity – Code of practice for planning and development). We have
reviewed the available information and are confident that this can address your immediate needs.

What is a preliminary bat roost assessment?

At this stage, we would like to save you time and money by recommending a survey that is designed
to avoid you having to undertake comprehensive surveys in the summer months unless it is absolutely necessary.

As you can appreciate, most structures do not present high-quality habitats for bats, so many sites do not need anything further than a preliminary, physical assessment.

Therefore, we provide below a quotation for one of our Natural England/Natural Resource Wales licenced bat workers to visit you and undertake a preliminary bat roost assessment (“PRA”), compliant with the Bat Conservation Trust publication on survey standards and protocol ‘Bat Surveys – Good Practice Guidelines’. We have reviewed the available information and are confident that this addresses your immediate needs.

Your PRA consists of a physical inspection of all internal and external features that may be suitable for roosting or provide habitat for bats in your buildings, other structures, and any trees that may be affected by your proposed development (there may be none).

Finally, your consultant will perform a desk study of local ecological receptors, including biological
records data, within 2km of your site (if any), and incorporate the results into your report.

There are then 2 possible outcomes, as follows:

What we found at your siteWhat this means for you
You have no bats, no evidence of bat activity, and the habitat value at your site is negligibleYour planning application can be progressed without delay
You have bats, and or have evidence of bat activity, and or the
habitat value at your site is important enough for us to be unable to rule out a risk of harm to bats at this stage.
Your local planning authority will expect to see the results of
further survey effort, known as bat emergence and re-entry
surveys (“BERS”), conducted in the optimal season (mid-May to
August) or with exceptional justification in the sub-optimal season
(April and September-October).

For further reference, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management has published a 3-page guide for homeowners, and what they can expect from a bat survey. We strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with this guide.

Barn Owls and Other Birds

One of Arbtech’s strengths is that all of our ecological consultants are trained to identify obvious signs of barn owl (Tyto alba), with now fully three of our consultants holding barn owl licences from Natural England and Natural Resource Wales. We can therefore leverage this expertise to save you cost and delay, by combining this with your PRA, free of charge.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve only been asked for an “ecology survey” – do I really need Biological Records Data as well?

Yes. Your local planning authority will expect to see biological records incorporated into the desk study element of your report. Without this valuable information, they will simply reject your report out of hand, because the methodology will not meet the minimum standard of survey defined by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

*Biological records are a data set that you or we must procure from your local provider; often your local authority themselves, or a wildlife trust.

Read more here: https://arbtech.co.uk/external-data-costs/

When can you do my survey?

Our available timescales are set out in the “Fees PRA 2019” document. Once your survey has concluded, and unless agreed otherwise, your report will normally follow in the next couple of days to a week. Timescales for delivery of third party data or services may vary.

What site access do we need?

We need to access all the external areas of your site. (If we are undertaking a preliminary roost appraisal for bats at the same time, we will also require full internal access to any buildings, compounds and other structures, including loft spaces and any other voids.)

Please note that if you fail to grant us full access to your site at the pre-agreed time and date of survey, you will still be charged the full fee.

How do I book?

Simply complete and return the attached Survey Booking Form with your payment.

To make your booking as simple as possible, we accept most forms of debit and credit card, including American Express.

You can pay online or directly over the phone by calling one of our friendly administrative team on 01244 661170.

Do you charge mileage or other fees?

All our costs are inclusive of our time, travelling expenses and your report.

What happens next?

As soon as we have your booking information, you will receive an automated booking confirmation email, followed by direct contact from one of our friendly ‘Arbtechers’, same or next working day, to arrange a mutually agreeable site appointment.

This person will be your Project Manager and will be your primary point of contact for the duration of our engagement.

We hope that our fixed fee quotation is met with your approval and look forward to working with you very soon.

Inevitably… the (not so) small print

This letter and any e-mail, attachment, estimate or quotation is pursuant to our General Terms and Conditions (“Terms”): https://arbtech.co.uk/terms-conditions. The Terms give details of the basis upon which we will provide our consultancy services and should be read in conjunction with any accompanying correspondence.

Your PRA fixed fee is based upon producing of your report to version 1.1. This is a finalised report based upon a draft copy presented to you for your comments and approval. Any further iteration as a result of consultation with you or third parties may be chargeable.

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