An Ecological Assessment differs from a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) in several respects. An Ecological Assessment includes the undertaking of Phase ll surveys, whilst a PEA does not. This means that Ecological Assessments provide an assessment of actual value, as opposed to an evaluation based primarily on professional judgement.
An Ecological Assessment is typically required where valuable ecological receptors have actually been identified, or have potential to occur (such as the presence of protected species or notable habitat), on a site at the Phase l survey stage and could be impacted by development proposals. The development proposals would be below the thresholds to trigger the requirement for the production of an Environmental Statement (ES). An ES is the written component of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
After the Phase ll surveys have been completed, the relevant ecological receptors are fully evaluated in accordance with Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) criteria (CIEEM, 2016), any residual impacts identified and described, together with the likely effect once mitigation has been taken into account.
An Ecological Assessment typically includes the following elements:
- Agreeing the scope of study with Natural England (NE), other statutory regulators, or the Local Planning Authority (LPA) if required;
- Comprehensive data search using free online resources, local biological records centre and other specialist recorders as required;
- Site visit and survey to ‘Extended’ Phase l standard (JNCC 2010);
- Phase ll surveys;
- Comprehensive report with full site description and colour habitat plan;
- Summary of relevant legislation and planning policy together with other pertinent information such as Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs);
- Full evaluation of the ecological receptors present based on results of Phase ll surveys;
- Full impact assessment in accordance with Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) criteria (CIEEM, 2016);
- Consultation with Natural England (NE), other statutory regulators and the Local Planning Authority (LPA) if required; and
- Details of agreed mitigation, compensation or ecological enhancement
An Ecological Assessment does not typically include:
- Recommendations for further survey work; or
- Detailed engineering level information on mitigation design
Joint Nature Conservation Committee (2010). Handbook for Phase 1 Habitat Survey – a Technique for Environmental Audit. JNCC, Peterborough.
Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (2016). Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) in the United Kingdom (Second Edition). CIEEM, Winchester.