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Protected Species

Our licensed ecologists are situated across the UK and capable of conducting a broad range of protected species surveys. Examples of the protected species surveys we offer include for bats, great crested newts, birds, badgers, reptiles and more. For a no-obligation quote, get in touch today.

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We will take your details and email you a quote explaining everything you need to know. We will also send a booking form along with your quote.

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Once your survey is complete we will write your report quickly and send it over to you when payment is made.

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.

About Our Protected Species Surveys

Our expert ecological consultants in action.

We provide a wide range of the protected species surveys that are frequently required by your local planning authority, showing evidence of compliance when it comes to cooperating with legislation surrounding development sites where European protected species are present while ensuring that populations of legally protected animal species aren’t disturbed or threatened as a result of alterations to the landscape.

The requirement of a protected species survey on your project can be both time-consuming and costly, particularly if an ecologist has reason to believe that multiple protected species are inhabiting areas of the site. That is why it is crucially important that you work with a team who can complete the work quickly, efficiently and in a way that guarantees comprehensive knowledge of the protected species on your site, the laws that safeguard them, and the implications that could otherwise harm your planning project.

UK Protected Species

As a developer, you may have been told by a local authority or an ecological consultant following a previous assessment that you need a protected species survey, or you may have identified evidence of certain animal habitats on your site and are aware that a protected species survey is required. Either way, the most suitable course of action would be to arrange this type of survey in order for a licensed ecologist to visit your site and determine the extent of the likely presence on your site.

Before you book a protected species survey, it could benefit you to understand more about them and how they can contribute to both your specific project and broader ecology as a whole. On this informative page, you will find insight into protected species, protected species surveys and our services.

What is a Protected Species?

Applying to both species of animal and plant, protected species are living organisms that have been identified and added to a strict list that makes them safe from harm or destruction. More specifically, anyone who is proven to intentionally or unintentionally injure, kill, possess, or sell a protected species will be breaching the laws surrounding them. It is also against relevant legislation to intentionally or unintentionally damage or destroy a nest, shelter or resting location of any protected species, as well as intentionally or unintentionally destroy, pick or uproot a protected species of plant.

Often labelled European protected species, listed organisms are safeguarded by specific sections of UK legislation within Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, as well as the rules and regulations of Natural England / Natural Resources Wales.

More information on the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

What Species are Protected Under Environmental Law in the UK?

Between numerous animals from the categories of amphibians, birds, crustaceans, fish, insects, invertebrates, mammals, molluscs and reptiles, and plants from the categories of flowering plants, fungi, lichens, liverworts, mosses, stoneworts and trees, there are hundreds of listed European protected species in the UK.

The most common species are listed below:

Protected Species in the UK


  • Badgers
  • Barn owls
  • Bats
  • Common dormice
  • Fish
  • Freshwater pearl mussels
  • Great crested newts
  • Hazel dormice
  • Invertebrates
  • Natterjack toads
  • Otters
  • Reptiles
  • Water voles
  • White-clawed crayfish
  • Wild birds


  • Protected fungi
  • Protected lichens
  • Protected plants

What is a Protected Species Survey?

A protected species survey is a form of assessment that establishes the presence of wildlife or plant life within the list of European protected species on or adjacent to a proposed development site. An ecologist would then visit the site to carry out a physical inspection, often starting with a broader survey such as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) to determine all protected species present before conducting specific protected species surveys based on the identified animals or plants.

The ecologist can then develop mitigation measures to enable the development to go ahead despite the presence of protected species, such as altering the planning project or relocating animals or plants to another location inside or outside of the site. A report detailing the assessment and the ecologist’s recommendations will then be produced, giving the local planning authorities all they need to grant a planning application.

Examples of Protected Species Surveys

  • Badger surveys
  • Barn owl surveys
  • Bat surveys
  • Bird surveys
  • Newt surveys
  • Reptile surveys
  • Other mammal surveys such as dormouse surveys, otter surveys or water vole surveys

When are Protected Species Surveys Required?

Any time a planning project is likely to cause an adverse impact to legally protected species on the site, a protected species survey will be needed. In some cases, early evidence of a protected species on the site may be proven incorrect during a Preliminary Ecologist Appraisal (PEA), while other circumstances may lead an ecologist to finding signs of a protected species and therefore lead to other protected species surveys.

Looking at specific examples, a protected species survey would be needed on any proposals that involve:

  • Adits
  • Agricultural buildings
  • Air raid shelters
  • Buildings with hanging tiles or weather boarding
  • Caves
  • Cellars
  • Church lighting
  • Field hedgerows with obvious connectivity to woodland or water
  • Flood lighting
  • Ice-houses
  • Kilns
  • Lines of trees with obvious connectivity to woodland or water
  • Military fortifications
  • Mines
  • Pre-1914 buildings
  • Pre-1960 detached buildings
  • Tunnels
  • Underground ducts
  • Woodland with obvious connectivity to woodland or water

Importance of Protecting Endangered Species

Efforts to actively protect endangered species are crucial as, in some cases, it could play a significant role in ensuring that native animals and plants aren’t made extinct. It also contributes to an overall incentive to boost the condition of the ecosystem, environment and biodiversity, benefitting air and water quality.

The UK government has stepped up the level of focus on preserving the environment and both wildlife and plant life species within it during development projects, particularly through the introduction of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) in the Environment Act 2021.

Surveying Protected Species

Prior to development works disturbing areas of the development site that could be inhabited by protected species, a developer should book a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) if they are unaware of potential ecological components on the site. If, however, evidence indicates or proves that only certain protected species are occupying the site, the developer can move ahead to booking the necessary assessment for the likely presence of animal or plant species.

During any protected species survey, the ecological consultant undertaking the assessment will visit the proposed development site and analyse all areas, looking for evidence of the presence of protected animals and plants. Indications of protected plants will be based on visual appearance and characteristics, while animals could be detected based on carcasses, droppings, feeding remains of prey and features that have been or could be used as a suitable habitat.

From bats to nesting birds and great crested newts to water voles, ecologists possess the necessary qualifications and knowledge to physically inspect a site as part of a protected species survey. Based on their findings, the present protected species, the adverse impact on them, and the required alterations needed to enable the development to continue, the ecologist can provide best practice guidance.

Protected Species Survey Report

Upon completion of any survey, the consultant surveyor in charge of the assessment will produce a report – a protected species survey is no different. Over the course of protected species surveys, the ecologist will make extensive notes, and once the assessment has been concluded, they will use these notes and their own insight and expertise to develop a comprehensive document that will act as a material consideration to support local planning authorities in decisions to accept or deny the planning application.

A protected species survey report will explain the nature of the assessment, details of the protected species such as behaviour, active seasons and population sizes, information about relevant protected species regulations, and standing advice that will allow the development project to go ahead as planned.

An ecological surveyor would always prioritise retaining protected species of animals or plants on the site. However, if this is not possible, the protected species will be moved elsewhere inside of the site, relocated outside of the site, or – if necessary – new animal habitats and plants of the same species will be created somewhere else on or off the development site to compensate for any losses.

Protected Species Services

Unlike other ecological consultancies, Arbtech specialises in numerous areas of ecology, providing the best practice guidance and standing advice that developers and local planning authorities need when a development site has a likely presence of a protected species.

We can not only confirm inhabiting protected species of plant life and wildlife on your development site, but also further support your development project by carrying out the additional surveys needed such as bat surveys or assessments for a water vole, nesting birds or great crested newts.

From the most common species of animals to lesser spotted valuable plants, we are experts at visiting a site to support protected species while maintaining an understanding of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, the guidelines from Natural England / Natural Resources Wales, the framework for conducting ecology surveys correctly, and the material consideration that planning authorities within local councils will be requesting.

Our Consultants

Across our talented team is a selection of qualified and licensed ecological consultants with the experience and knowledge needed to undertake effective and impactful protected species services. Arbtech‘s ecologists are qualified to bachelor’s and master’s degree level and, on the basis of our advice, our clients have enjoyed a 98% success rate at seeing their planning application granted.

Our company structure has been uniquely tweaked to make our ecological surveyors more efficient and save our clients money. Each ecologist is home or office-based throughout the UK, allowing us wider coverage than most other consultancies and the ability to provide European protected species surveys to an extensive selection of areas across the country.

Within this format, we can guarantee an ecologist close to our clients regardless of location, saving the cost of fees for each survey. Our head office is in Chester, Cheshire, but we also have offices in Birmingham and London, and using our considered approach and based on the sheer scale of our client base, we have carried out hundreds of protected species surveys each year all over the UK.

Protected Species Survey Licence

Alongside the necessary qualifications and experience, all of our ecologists are suitably licensed to undertake the protected species surveys and other additional surveys and ecology surveys on your development site.

All of our ecological consultants hold a licence for the most common species such as for bats, nesting birds and great crested newts. However, we implore our ecologists to hold licenses for one or more European protected species to benefit the needs of our clients.

We insist on solely hiring passionate, motivated and proactive individuals, so our surveyors are often working towards their next protected species licence to enhance their skill set and offer more flexibility to clients in terms of the protected species surveys they can take on.

How to Start Your Protected Species Survey

If you are under the impression that a European protected species of animal or plant is inhabiting your site, or if you have been given standing advice by the planning department of your local council, you will need to book a protected species survey before breaking ground on your development project.

Each year, we see a gradual increase in the number of clients speaking to Arbtech about protected species surveys. With our expertise, knowledge of protected species and the guidelines from Natural England / Natural Resources Wales, understanding of effective guidance to support protected species, and impactful standing advice for developers, we have been able to support planning applications more than any other ecological consultancy in the UK.

Booking Protected Species Surveys

Giving us instructions to get started with protected species surveys is a simple process. All you need to do is contact us using our dedicated page, by filling out our quick quote form or calling us directly via the phone number at the top of this page. At this point, we would advise giving us as much detail about your project and site as possible including the address. We can then create an accurate quote for you and send it across with all the information you need.

With your free quote, you will also receive a booking form which you can use to indicate whether or not you would like us to carry out the necessary protected species surveys on your site. If you are happy to continue, we will speak to you to arrange a suitable date to get started, and our consultant will arrive on the chosen date to undertake the required protected species surveys.

Common Questions

A protected species is a category of animal or plant that is safeguarded by legislation, using the law as an enforceable measure to prevent unnecessary harm.
Whether it is on purpose or by accident, the act of killing a protected species would be classed as a breach of the law, leading to penalties such as imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
Efforts to support protected species and prevent further adverse impact are in action from the local authorities, relevant organisations and applicable regulators. The intervention of protected species surveys assists with defending listed animals and plants while enabling development works and the process of obtaining a planning application, but aside from that, the focus has been on connecting and restoring suitable habitats to encourage survival and growth in population sizes.
The current list of protected species includes badgers, barn owls, bats, dormice, great crested newts, natterjack toads, otters, water voles, white-clawed crayfish and wild birds.
Among the array of benefits that come from initiatives to support protected species, the primary reason for defending listed animals and plants is that it contributes to the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem and both preserving and conserving the state of biodiversity.
Animal and plant species protected by law fall into multiple pieces of legislation. The main pieces, however, include the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
A selection of different authorities, regulators and organisations come together to protect natural assets and features, with a particular focus on endangered species of animals and plants. Such bodies include Natural England / Natural Resources Wales, DEFRA, CIEEM and the local authorities that will demand evidence of compliance to relevant planning policies before granting planning permission.
It would be strongly advised to avoid any intervention with protected species, and instead trust in the guidance of a qualified ecological consultant. During an ecology survey, mitigation measures will be provided, and from there, you will know the most suitable course of action that will play a role in securing a successful planning application.

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