Ecological Surveys - Cornwall

Are you looking for a phase 1 ecology survey to accompany a planning application or simply to check the potential viability of a development site? The answer to this may influence the type of survey required.

In an ideal scenario, Ecological Appraisals should be completed prior to any drawings or other architectural work being undetaken. This will permit designs to conform with any biodiversity implications or restrictions which may become apparent as a result of the ecology survey.

Initial Ecological Scoping / Feasibility Appraisal

An initial scoping / feasibility appraisal is intended to provide a brief overview of a site. It will highlight ecological aspects or considerations that might lead to financial implications that may potentially jeopardise the feasibility of the project. This type of appraisal lacks the depth of a full survey, but an initial scoping survey may save considerable sums of money and time in the future. Please feel free to discuss any potential projects you have under consideration. 

Phase 1 Habitat Surveys / Ecological Appraisals

Phase 1 Habitat Surveys are now more commonly known as ‘Ecological Appraisals’ or ‘Ecological Surveys’ or perhaps even Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys. Whatever the terminology used, these surveys and reports are invariably associated with a planning application, or for legal compliance.

An early survey may bring to attention over-riding ecological concerns or issues for which neither mitigation or compensation can fully address and consequently save you significant sums of money on progressing a project that is unlikely to succeed.

Ecological Surveys Ltd are able to undertake Ecological Appraisals for such purposes. Staff are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and are bound by CIEEM’s professional code of conduct.

Whilst ecological considerations might appear to put constraints on development, we do not believe they have to be diametrically opposed. We strive to help create a situation where development and wildlife conservation do not conflict. We aim to achieve this in a number of ways:

  • Your survey report from Ecological Surveys Ltd will make you fully aware of relevant wildlife legislation and planning policy that might impact upon your planning application.
  • Where applicable, mitigation or compensation strategies are recommended within the report that will ensure no loss of habitat value. This helps reassure planning officers that your proposals will not impact upon the biodiversity value of the site. 
  • We also consider and where practical, suggest ways to actually add biodiversity value and enhance the existing habitat for wildlife.
  • There maybe occasions when the Ecological Survey highlights concerns which cannot be mitigated for on site and which call for compensation measures.

What is included within an Ecological Appraisal?

The fundamental purpose of the survey is to ascertain whether development will impact upon the habitat and biodiversity value of the site. If the proposals do have potential impacts, mitigation strategies must be included as part of the planning proposal. Failure to mitigate / compensate when required, can have detrimental effects on your planning application. Ecological Surveys Ltd’s ‘Ecological appraisals’ focus on the following:

  • Mapping of broad habitats subdivided as appropriate to highlight significant habitat variations on site.
  • Identification of not only dominant plant species but as many native species as can be observed during the survey.
  • Hedgerow Assessment to check for species rich hedgerows, considered “important” under the Hedgerow Regulations. 
  • Presence of Protected Species on site.
  • Protected Species Habitat Assessment.
  • Biodiversity Action Plan Species Habitat Assessment.
  • Bat Survey of any trees and buildings to be affected.
  • Badger Sett and Signs Survey.
  • Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species Survey.
  • Invertebrate Habitat Assessment.

What other ecological surveys / research is likely to be required?

Desk studies

Depending on the site location and planned development, various desk studies are normally undertaken. For instance the site is not considered in isolation, but within its context and its proximity to noted / protected sites nearby. Potential impacts to local protected sites, are considered and noted in the report. If the proposed development site is of ecological value and protected species are indicated or suspected, further desk study is normally undertaken to check for local records of significant species occuring in close proximity.

Phase 2 (Protected Species Surveys)

Depending on the observations and finding of the initial Ecological Appraisal, further surveys maybe unnecessary. However, specialist surveys (phase 2) maybe required if the presence of protected species is indicated or suspected on site. These additional surveys are focused on establishing the presence or likely absence of a protected species/assemblage, and/or the size of its local population.

Failure to conducted a recommended phase 2 survey will almost certainly result in a planning application being rejected and could potentially lead to a statutory offence being committed during site development. 

The suspected or indicated presence of the following species, will require additional surveys to be conducted:

· Bats

· Badger 

· Birds

· Rare Botanical Species

· Dormouse

· Great Crested Newt

· Reptiles

· Water vole

· Protected Invertebrates

· Otter 

· White Clawed Crayfish 

· Natterjack Toad and depending on location others too.


If following an Ecological Appraisal, it becomes apparent that additional protected species surveys are required, it must be understood that in order to conform to Natural England guidelines, surveys must be conducted at specific times of year. Failure to adhere to the guidelines will reports rejected by the LPA.

If you suspect the presence of any of these protected species on site, we suggest you contact us immediately to discuss your site and requirements in more detail. Failure to do so may mean missing the seasonal window – and you could have to wait for another year or more!

What are the implication if protected species are found on site?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out national planning policy. It is concerned with minimising impacts on biodiversity and indeed looks to provide net biodiversity gains where possible. The NPPF places an obligation on local authorities to promote the preservation, restoration and recreation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species. Consequently, the presence of protected species is a material consideration.

Government guidance states that Local Planning Authorities should have all the survey and mitigation information before they decide a planning application – Therefore, additional surveys are rarely made a condition of planning consent  and are almost universally required before the planning application is decided.

On occasion, mitigation measures such as maintaining hedgerow connectivity, or installing recommended lighting systems to limit the impacts on bats, are sufficient to gain planning permission. Sometimes, however, more detailed mitigation or compensation strategies are required.

If it is unavoidable, some species may have to be caught and translocated to other areas. 

Where European Protected Species: dormouse, bats, badgers and others – are impacted or potentially impacted, it may be necessary to apply to Natural England for European Protected Species Licences (EPSL).

These measures may take time to enact and as previously noted, the period in which these actions can be undertaken is limited. Please remember this and allow ample time. Ecological Surveys Ltd are able to assist with mitigation measures.

Best advice has to be to plan early and allow sufficient time for surveys to be completed.

What happens after planning permission is granted?

Once planning has been granted, we can help implement the mitigation / compensation measures. Apply for Natural England EPSL and are able to assist in a wide variety of ways from catching and translocating species to erecting bat / bird boxes and advising on and planting hedgerows and much more besides. Please ask for details.

Ecological Surveys Ltd would be pleased to tender for your project. Please contact us with details of the project, its location and any deadlines that might be applicable.


Charges for Ecological Appraisals are guaranteed and will be confirmed and agreed at the outset. 

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