A planning application for a property redevelopment was recently withdrawn on the advice of the local authority. This was because no bat survey had been undertaken, even though anecdotal evidence suggested bats were roosting in the structure. The developer now has to wait until late spring, when bats are active again, for surveys to be carried out, prompting a delay of several months before their planning application can be resubmitted complete with the survey information and an assessment of any impacts the development might have on bats, if the surveys confirm that they are indeed present. By not doing this work earlier in the process, the developer has now incurred heavy delays and extra costs. Dr. Mikael Forup looks at the benefits of planning ahead when assessing the potential ecological impact of a proposed development.
We all probably know of similar examples where the need to deal with ecological issues on a project has come as an inconvenient surprise late in the process. Cases like these serve as timely reminders of the important role of effective planning – especially for ecological surveys - in reducing risks to your programme and costs. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
The optimal survey time and length of the survey window vary from one ecological receptor to the next. Early planning for ecological surveys therefore tends to pay dividends in meeting project timescales. The best time of the year is now: Spending a little time in winter to plan your ecological assessment is the most effective way to meet timescales and keep costs to a minimum.
If you know that an ecological assessment is needed, we strongly recommend that you carry out any desk study this winter and an extended Phase 1 habitat survey in early April. Thereafter, if your site has the potential to support protected species, any required surveys can be carried out later this season, rather than next year. If protected species are found to be present, this information can feed into your site design and any required mitigation can also be identified at an early stage. This will also reduce the risk of your planning application being rejected due to unacceptable impacts or incomplete information.
The Atmos Ecology team is here to help you successfully navigate your way through the process. Our ecologists hold the necessary licences to undertake protected species surveys and the work needed to put in place mitigation strategies that will satisfy Local Planning Authorities.
From multi-million pound infrastructure, construction and renewable energy developments through to individual property owners needing support with a bat survey, we have a proven track record of enabling successful development where sensitive ecological constraints exist. This enables us to strike the right balance between addressing ecological project challenges and ensuring that the commercial needs of the project as a whole are met.