As part of a development proposal, an Ecological Survey should take account of the proposed construction [and processes] as well as the surrounding area. The assessment should consider the existing ecological contribution and importance, identify potential and likely impacts and consider Site Restriction, Mitigation, Compensation and Ecological Enhancement.
In order to accurately assess a site’s ecological importance and contribution, an initial baseline scoping survey can be undertaken which will identify the presence and/or absence of protected species habitat which will guide the necessity for additional more detailed ecological surveys. Broadly, the ecological survey assessments may include the following –
Desktop Ecological Survey
This will be primarily guided by the sourcing of Ecological Records Data from the Local Biodiversity Record Centre and will form a summary of any existing ecological information relating to the site together with an indication of the assessment area, i.e. Ordnance Survey plan indicating the site and surrounding buffer area.
Depending on the age of the ecological records, it should be possible to provide an indication as to whether there are any known Rare and/or Protected Species associated with the site together with their significance in relation to survey timings and species importance, e.g. Protected Species Red Data book species, Biodiversity Action Plan species etc.
Habitat Survey Map
This draws on the information from an ecological desktop study and shows the habitat types [in accordance with the Phase 1 Handbook) alongside target notes relating to significant features/species present; details are also typically provided relating to the impact and consideration for said habitats and target notes.
Detailed Ecological Assessments (Habitat / Protected Species Surveys)
Depending on the findings of the baseline/desktop assessments and/or the known conservation considerations of the site’s surrounding area, more detailed surveys are typically required in order to outline the current ecological contribution of the site to the surrounding area. The more detailed survey(s) may comprise a detailed habitat assessment and/or protected species survey(s).
A Phase 1 Habitat Survey will include the types and extent of the habitats found on the site [by the the study, identification and mapping of important wildlife habitats]. This allows for an assessment of a site’s ecological importance and significant habitat features (property, plot of land, established boundary area) and informs the necessity for additional protected species survey work.
Protected/Rare Species Survey
A species survey should be undertaken in support of the habitat survey and be based on the findings of the identified habitats. The surveys should ideally relate to the optimum times for each species and if not followed an explanation as to why this was not possible should be given.
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