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It's Great Crested Newt Survey Time!

Posted 18 March 2013 by Tim Smith

Did you know that Great Crested Newts are heavily protected [1] and that if convicted you can be fined up to £5,000 per newt (a pond may support hundreds of newts!), imprisoned for up to six months and vehicles, plant and machinery seized that are involved in committing the offence. Wildlife crime forensics are increasingly being used to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt when wildlife crimes have been committed.

One such example is provided by a Yorkshire-based developer who was fined £11,500 plus costs after pleading guilty to carrying out works which resulted in damage to a population of Great Crested Newts at a holiday park.

Male great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)Read on to find out how by using an appropriately qualified, experienced and licenced ecologist you can ensure that your project and proposed activities are fully compliant with wildlife legislation, thus avoiding the risks of prosecution outlined above as well as costly delays due to non-compliance with planning policy.

Do You Need To Commission A Great Crested Newt Survey?

Do you or your Clients have any of the following:

  • Development sites containing ponds or ditches; and/or
  • Development sites supporting habitats such as rough grassland, scrub, and woodland that could be affected by development and that are located within 500 metres of ponds or ditches (these features could be outside the site boundary).

Alternatively, have you been advised by an ecologist, Planning Officer, Natural England or other consultee that you need to undertake a Great Crested Newt survey, perform a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) calculation or a Rapid Risk Assessment (RRA) for a development?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, you need to obtain the advice of an appropriately licenced and experienced ecologist NOW in order that you don't miss the narrow survey window for Great Crested Newts. Five Valleys Ecology can support you and your business with professional Great Crested Newt surveys and reports for planning applications and for legal compliance.

If your business requires a Great Crested Newt survey then make sure you don't miss this opportunity - you could have to wait for another year! Further information on Great Crested Newt surveys can be found by clicking here

Why Use Five Valleys Ecology

We provide a 'one stop shop' for professional ecological advice. We can provide a fully managed service taking complete care of your project from pre-development to post-development leaving you to focus your valuable time and energy on other matters (see What Our Clients Say below).

Five Valleys Ecology can also ensure that costly delays and the risk of offences being committed and prosecution are avoided by ensuring that you and your project are fully compliant with wildlife legislation and planning policy.

As a ‘green’ company, we can also bring additional value to projects for Clients who are actively engaged in sustainable procurement and management of the environmental performance of their supply chain.

Further benefits of using Five Valleys Ecology are:

  • Professional, highly experienced and knowledgeable surveyors;
  • Great Crested Newt survey licence holders;
  • All work is fully compliant with the latest Best Practice guidance;
  • Quality detailed reports produced within realistic timescales;

  • Big enough company to deliver, but small enough to care;
  • Personal service;
  • Clients kept informed throughout the process; and
  • Effective liaison with Planning Authorities, Natural England and other key consultees.

What Do You Need To Do Now!

Don't forget - there is only a short window of time for Great Crested Newt surveys to be carried out and it starts NOW! Don’t delay – it could cost you and your Client in the long run!

Call Tim Smith on 01453 759306 (M:07732 397984) or email us to arrange a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

[1] GCNs are protected under both UK law; The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) (as amended), and European law (The Habitats Directive); which is transposed into law in England and Wales by The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) ('Habitats Regulations'). Great Crested Newts are also protected under various national, regional and local planning policies together with national and local Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs).

How To Manage Ecological Constraints In The Easiest, Quickest and Most Cost Effective Way Possible

Posted 06 February 2013 by Tim Smith

Do you know how to identify and address the ecological constraints that may be present on your proposed development site in the easiest, quickest and most cost effective way possible?

Do you know what ecological information is needed to enable your planning application to be determined without incurring unnecessary and costly delays?

If not, then read on and find out how by using Five Valleys Ecology you can avoid many of the common pitfalls and concomitant delays and costs that can occur to development projects, and how we can add real value to your business.

The Completely Avoidable Problem!

We are often contacted after a planning proposal has been submitted and the Local Planning Authority (LPA) has either refused to validate the application due to a lack of ecological information, or simply requested that this information is supplied in order that the application can be determined.

It is not uncommon to be contacted at the end of the survey season when we then have the unenviable tasks of explaining that due to the seasonal survey windows for particular fauna and flora we are unable to conduct the necessary surveys until the following year!

Benefits Of Using Five Valleys Ecology

Aerial photograph of housing and surrounding farmland in the Cotswolds

The unanticipated and costly delays that this causes can be avoided by contacting Five Valleys Ecology for advice early on in the life cycle of the project. We can look at the nature of your proposal together with the development site and/or buildings proposed for demolition or alteration and provide advice on a suitable scope of work to address any ecological constraints.

Contacting Five Valleys Ecology for advice at an early stage in the project enables potential ecological constraints to be identified and any necessary field surveys to be undertaken in the shortest timescale possible. We are then able to use this information to work closely with you design team or architect to design out the ecological constraints and specify the required measures to fully integrate the ecology into your proposed development in the most cost effective and efficient way possible. Our approach ensures that as far as possible your development proposals meet your aspirations and/or the needs of your business without conflicting with the necessary protection of ecological resources.

Retaining and enhancing wildlife as an integral part of the proposal is not only necessary for legal and planning policy compliance; with appropriate marketing and sales messaging it can also add real value to the development as well as enabling the allocation of credits under BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) assessments. It can also be positive PR for your company and/or your clients, adding real value to your business through improved green credentials and ethical working practices.

Where Do I Start?

The starting point would typically be to undertake an Ecological Appraisal or Preliminary Bat Assessment. An Ecological Appraisal is suitable for proposals affecting areas of land as opposed to proposals solely affecting buildings or other types of built structures, such as the conversion of outbuildings or extensions to existing buildings. In these circumstances a Preliminary Bat Assessment will typically be more appropriate.

See below for a description of the overall purpose of Ecological Appraisals and Preliminary Bat Assessments, the methodologies used and deliverables.

Ecological Appraisal

The overall purpose of an Ecological Appraisal is broadly to:

  • Identify any ecological constraints that may be present;
  • Specify any detailed surveys that may be required to investigate any ecological constraints further; and
  • Provide advice on preliminary mitigation, compensation and enhancement in accordance with planning policy and legislative requirements.

This is achieved through undertaking a survey of the site using the ‘extended’ Phase l survey methodology as recommended by Natural England [1]. A desk study entailing a data search with the local biological records centre for records of protected and notable fauna and flora within the vicinity of the site is undertaken. Various online resources are also used during the desk study.

Once sufficient baseline data has been obtained this is summarised in a full report for planning setting out ecological issues and opportunities, making reference to policy, guidance and legislation, where relevant. A full colour habitat features plan is also included together with recommendations for any further survey work (if required), and preliminary mitigation.

Further details on Ecological Appraisals can be found on our website here.

[1] Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2010. Handbook for Phase 1 Habitat Survey - a Technique for Environmental Audit. JNCC, Peterborough.

Preliminary Bat Assessment

A Preliminary Bat Assessment is typically required where a proposed development will solely affect existing buildings or other types of built structures with potential to support roosting bats (and breeding birds).

The overall purpose of a Preliminary Bat Assessment is to:

  • Identify the presence of bats themselves or evidence of presence such as droppings or staining from urine or fur oil;
  • Identify potential roost sites, such as crevices and voids, particularly those that cannot be easily searched during the day together with potential access points in the fabric of the building, so that these can be investigated further during evening emergence or dawn re-entry surveys;
  • Identify any evidence of past or present usage of the buildings by nesting birds, including Barn Owl Tyto alba; and
  • Provide advice on preliminary mitigation, compensation and enhancement in accordance with planning policy and legislative requirements.

This is achieved through undertaking a survey entailing external and internal searches of the buildings or other built structures that will be affected by the proposal by a suitably experienced and licenced ecologist in accordance with best practice guidance published by the Bat Conservation Trust [2]. The surrounding habitat is also assessed in terms of its potential to support foraging, roosting and commuting bats. The survey is further informed by a data trawl for bat records within the vicinity of the site using online resources, the local biological records centre or county bat recorder, as appropriate.

The building searches involve the use of ladders, torches, and video endoscopes to identify roosts or features that could be used as roosts. Infa-red thermometers and laser distance measurers are also used to capture surface temperatures and dimensions from within the buildings for roost characterisation purposes.

Once surveys are complete, a full report is prepared for planning in draft with outline mitigation requirements, if required, together with legal and policy implications. Recommendations for any further survey work, if any, is also provided.

[2] Hundt, L., 2012. Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines. 2nd edition. Bat Conservation Trust, London.

What Do I Need To Do Right Now?

We can support you and your business with professional ecological surveys and reports for planning applications and for legal compliance.

Call Tim Smith on 01453 759306 (M:07732 397984) or email us to arrange a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

Robin - Erithacus rubecula

HOW TO TAKE YOUR PROJECTS FORWARD DURING THE WINTER OUTSIDE THE MAIN ECOLOGY SURVEY SEASON

Posted 09 January 2013 by Tim Smith

Planning application submitted without the appropriate ecological survey are unlikely to be validated by Local Planning Authorities. This can result in unanticipated costs and delays to projects.

We specialise in using the most cost effective and efficient approach possible to ensure that development proposals are in accordance with planning policy and relevant ecology legislation.

An appropriate ecological scoping survey, such as an ECOLOGICAL APPRAISAL, can highlight potential ecological issues at an early stage, enabling any Phase ll survey work that may be required to be programmed into the project timetable and costed accordingly.

Ecological Appraisals (and Preliminary Bat Assessments) can be undertaken after the main survey season has ended (may be subject to limitations). Ecological Appraisals carried out during the autumn/winter period are particularly useful for highlighting whether Phase ll surveys for fauna with narrow early season survey windows are required such as great crested newts, breeding birds and wintering birds.

This means that we can continue to progress your projects over the autumn/winter and help to ensure that unnecessary delays and costs are avoided next survey season. Make sure you don't miss this opportunity or you could have to wait for another year and that could cost you and your client!

We can help you get it right. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can take your projects forward during the winter please call Tim Smith on 01453 759306 (M:07732 397984) or email us to arrange a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

25% OFF INTRODUCTORY OFFER FOR NEW CLIENTS

Posted 28 October 2012 by Tim Smith in Five Valleys Ecology

Would you like to try our services but have never commissioned the services of an ecological consultant or Five Valleys Ecology before? Why not take advantage of our 25% Off Introductory Offer. The first 10 people to get in touch and request a proposal by the 10th November 2012 will receive a 25% discount off our normal fee rates (terms and conditions apply). It’s the ideal opportunity to try our services and find out how effective we are in helping you and your business.

Call Tim Smith on 01453 759306 (M:07732 397984) or email us to arrange a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

Ethical Company Orgainsation Logo

ACCREDITATION FROM THE ETHICAL COMPANY ORGANISATION

Posted 23 September 2012 by Tim Smith in Five Valleys Ecology

Earlier this year Five Valleys Ecology was delighted to receive accreditation with the Ethical Company Organisation for the second year running. This is a clear demonstration of our continued track record and commitment to ethical business practice, and managing the impact of our business on the environment. Our accreditation with the Ethical Company Organisation helps ensure that we comply with your ethical supply chain management policies meaning that everyone benefits, including your business!

Further details can be obtained by downloading a copy of our Ethical and Environmental Policy (pdf, 48 K) and (sorry, userfile id 'Ethica Accreditation Award Certificate 2012_2013' not found in database) from our website.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

Posted 14 August 2012 by Tim Smith in Five Valleys Ecology

As detailed in best practice guidance published by the Bat Conservation Trust (Hundt, L., 2012. Bat Surveys Good Practice Guidelines, 2ndEdition. Bat Conservation Trust, London) the Bat Survey Seasons comes to a close at the end of September.

This means that if you require a professional bat survey for a planning application and legal compliance you need to instruct a specialist in the next two weeks.

If your business requires a bat survey then make sure you don't miss this opportunity or you could have to wait for another year and that could cost you and your client!

Call our bat specialist Tim Smith on 01453 759306 or email us for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

Lesser Horseshoe Bat - Rhinolophus hipposideros

DON'T LEAVE IT TOO LATE!

Posted 17 July 2012 by Tim Smith in Five Valleys Ecology

Five Valleys Ecology can support you and your business with professional bat surveys for planning applications and legal compliance.

This is just a gentle reminder that there is only 10 weeks left until the end of the bat survey season as detailed in best practice guidance published by the Bat Conservation Trust (Hundt, L., 2012. Bat Surveys Good Practice Guidelines, 2nd Edition. Bat Conservation Trust, London).

If your business requires a bat survey then make sure you don't miss this opportunity. You could have to wait for another year and that could cost you and your client!

Please feel free to call our bat specialist Tim Smith on 01453 759306 or email us for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

IT'S BAT SURVEY TIME!

Posted 15 June 2012 by Tim Smith in Five Valleys Ecology

Do you have projects which involve:

  • Conversion, refurbishment or demolition of buildings;
  • Domestic extensions or loft conversions;
  • Development sites with potential to support bats; or
  • Tree removal or tree surgery

Soprano Pipistelle  - Pipistrellus pygmaeusDo you need to instruct a Bat Survey?

The majority of bat surveys can only be carried out in a narrow seasonal survey window each year and it starts NOW! This information is required BEFORE planning permission is determined. If your business requires a bat survey then make sure you don't miss this opportunity – you could have to wait another year!

Five Valleys Ecology are currently carrying out Bat Surveys in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas. We can support you and your business with professional bat surveys and reports for planning applications and for legal compliance.

Why Appoint Five Valleys Ecology?

  • Professional, experienced and knowledgeable surveyors;
  • Natural England and Countryside Council for Wales Bat Survey Licence holders;
  • Local company big enough to deliver, small enough to care;
  • Fully compliant with Best Practice guidance;
  • Quality detailed reports produced within realistic timescales;
  • Clients kept informed throughout the process; and
  • Effective liaison with Planning Authorities, Natural England & other key Consultees

Recent Surveys Carried Out By Five Valleys Ecology

  • Leonard Stanley, Stroud – Brown Lon-eared Bats, Greater Horseshoe Bats and Lesser Horseshoe Bats;
  • Horsecombe Vale, Bath – Lesser Horseshoe and Myotis Bats;
  • Elmstone Hardwicke, Cheltenham – Lesser Horseshoe Bats; and
  • Old Town, Swindon – Myotis Bats

Don't forget - there is only a short window of time for Bat Surveys to be carried out and it starts NOW! Don’t delay – it could cost you and your client in the long run!

Call our bat specialist Tim Smith on 01453 759306 or email us for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.



Five Valleys Ecology Ltd

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Email us to book a free 15 minute no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.

Survey Season Calendar

Download a copy of our latest Ecology Survey Calendar (pdf, 210 K) to help avoid costly delays to your projects due to missing ecology survey windows.

Start of the Great Crested Newt Survey Season

Surveys for great crested newts (GCNs) can be undertaken from mid-March to mid-June depending on weather conditions. Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) require survey information before planning applications are determined in accordance with Paragraphs 98 and 99 of 'ODPM Circular 06/2005 Biodiversity and Geological Conservation'. We recommend that clients consider the requirement for newt surveys now and plan ahead. Do not miss the narrow GCN survey window. Contact us now to book in surveys and for further advice.

Supreme Court Ruling on the 'Deliberate Disturbance' Offence

In the case of Morge vs Hampshire County Council [2011] UKSC 2 on appeal from: [2010] EWCA Civ 608 the Supreme Court has overruled the Court of Appeal and given a more cautious interpretation of the Article 12(1)(b) 'deliberate disturbance' offence. The Supreme Court believed that the Court of Appeal had set the threshold for 'deliberate disturbance' too high. Whilst no minimum threshold was given by the Supreme Court, a leading environmental lawyer has reviewed the case and believes that in some circumstances disturbance of one or two individuals of a European Protected Species (EPS) may fall within the offence.

Five Valleys Ecology Receive an Ethical Award from the Ethical Company Organisation

Five Valleys Ecology are delighted to have received an Ethical Award and accreditation from the Ethical Company Organisation in recognition of our strong commitment to ethical business practices. The research team stated 'Five Valleys Ecology are commended for puting ethical and environmental considerations at the heart of their business and for providing an ethical alternative within their sector'.

FREE 15 MINUTE NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION

Email us to book a free 15 minute no-obligation consultation to discuss your site and requirements in more detail.