What should be included in ecological assessments
Background to ecological assessments
Planning authorities need to consider biodiversity when deciding planning applications. When a proposed development is likely to affect a site, species, feature or habitat of biodiversity importance, you should submit a nature conservation/ecological assessment (sometimes referred to as a Biodiversity Survey and Report) with your planning application. Some types of development are particularly likely to require ecological assessments, for example barn conversions or lakeside developments in the Cotswold Water Park. Please see the following for more information:
The level of assessment required will vary from a simple biodiversity survey to a complex ecological assessment as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Ecologists carrying out nature conservation/ecological assessments should have the appropriate experience and qualifications. Please see the following page for advice:
Any survey or assessment should be carried out at the appropriate time of year, in suitable weather conditions and using nationally recognised survey guidelines/methods, when available. Please see the following for more information:
Please visit the following website for further guidance on appropriate survey methods
It is important that any assessment includes both on and off site impacts. Pipelines and cable runs serving the site which go beyond the site boundary should be assessed because they can cause impacts elsewhere, for example development can lead to changes in hydrology which can affect habitats at some distance away.
Contents of ecological assessment
The assessment should include:
Details of ecological consultants
- Name and experience of the ecologist who has undertaken the survey
Desk-based study of the site
- A general description of the site, explaining its location and a map.
- The current status of the site (e.g. is it a designated site?)
- Any designated sites within 1km should be identified on a plan.
- Presentation and analysis of existing ecological data (which may be available from the Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records or other ecological recording systems, for example Wetland Bird Survey)
- Copies of any consultations with statutory or non-governmental organisations, such as Natural England, the Environment Agency or the Wildlife Trust
Field-based study of the site
- Date, time, temperature and weather conditions at the time of survey.
- Up-to-date survey information for the site, including survey methods, and results (species and habitats present and their extent, frequency and location - all data collected should be included.) The type of survey will depend upon the nature of the site and the likely impact of the proposed development. For further information on survey methodologies available please visit Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management
Evaluation of the site
- Evaluation of the ecological importance of the site.
- Impact of the proposed development on the biodiversity of the site and its surroundings.
- If European protected species are affected, consideration should be given to the 'derogation' tests.
- Mitigation and compensation proposals (including habitat management, enhancement and creation proposals.)
Net impacts of the proposed development
What else should be submitted with an ecological survey?
If mitigation and compensation proposals have been recommended within the ecological assessment, you should illustrate them on your submitted drawings. For example, if a bat loft is recommended within a barn conversion, you should detail the location and the dimensions of the loft in the submitted plans so that the Local Planning Authority can be satisfied that the mitigation measures can be achieved as part of the development.
You should always submit surveys and mitigation proposals as part of the planning application. If you undertake and submit them later in the process, there is a risk that the plans for the development will have to be redesigned or halted (temporarily or permanently) for example if protected species are found on site.