A Guide for Ecological Consultants
Ecological reports, for example Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEA), etc must provide sufficient information for the LPA to be able to determine the application in the context of national legislation and local policy, including the Carmarthenshire LDP and SPGs.
All information on surveys, impacts, avoidance, mitigation, and enhancement measures must be provided with the planning application prior to determination. It is important that the applicant understands this. Good applications with correct information will proceed faster.
It is vital that you have a sound understanding of wildlife legislation and planning policy (in relation to wildlife) as well as species surveys and mitigation/compensation/enhancement requirements including Net Benefit for Biodiversity.
All work should comply with the British Standard for Biodiversity - BS42020 and CIEEM’s guidelines for ecological report writing (Guidelines for Ecological Report Writing, Second Edition, December 2017). Net Benefit for Biodiversity must comply with national and local guidance and the DECCA framework must be followed (Welsh Government’s Approach to Net Benefits for Biodiversity and the DECCA Framework in the Terrestrial Planning System, CIEEM Briefing Paper, September 2022). Surveyors must have proven competencies relevant to the protected species that may be present on site and any species-specific guidance from relevant professional bodies must be followed.
All ecological reports MUST include:
- Dates of reports.
- Dates and times surveys carried out.
- Names and relevant experience, qualifications and licence numbers of surveyors and authors of reports.
- Any survey limitations.
Ecological reports should clearly set out:
- How the development impacts on nationally and locally designated sites and protected species (impact assessment).
- How the impacts will be avoided, mitigated, or compensated, enhanced (applying the mitigation hierarchy).
- How the development will result in a Net Benefit for Biodiversity which must be included in a Net Benefit for Biodiversity Action Statement.
- How the application complies with legislation and policy.
Where there is an impact or potential impact on an internationally designated site (SAC or SPA) the consultant must provide sufficient information for the LPA (as the competent authority) to carry out a Habitats Regulations Assessment. This information is often referred to as a “Report to Inform the Appropriate Assessment of the proposed scheme [insert scheme name].”
Where there is an impact on other designated habitats or habitats/species of principle importance the ecological reports must state how the application complies with policy.
Input into any Nature Based SUDS scheme must be carried out early in the design process. For certain developments the Nature Based SUDS scheme will comprise much of the Net Benefit for Biodiversity for that particular site.
To demonstrate Net Benefit for Biodiversity the following must be submitted to the LPA (either as part of the ecological report(s) or as standalone documents). For smaller schemes it would be expected that this is included in the PEA report:
- A location map and a clearly annotated map/plan(s) illustrating key wildlife/ecological features before development (eg phase 1 map, UK hab, building plans showing bat roosts)
- Clearly annotated Net Benefit for Biodiversity map/plan(s) which shows the site after development with all avoidance, mitigation, compensation, and enhancement measures agreed with the client. It may be necessary to have a separate plan showing measures during development eg showing construction exclusion zones for trees, etc. Losses and gains must be shown in map form and/or in table form.
- A Net Benefit for Biodiversity Action Statement - This should bring together all the required details of avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures and monitoring. Details must be explicit and sufficiently detailed (including method statements where necessary) – not just a list of recommendations. Implementation of the actions in this statement may be a condition of the permission (if granted) and the statement may be pulled out to be used as a standalone document when monitoring the application. For large developments with several reports this should be a standalone document that brings together the necessary actions from all the reports. It is vital that the client is content to take actions forward.
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