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What is an ecological survey?

Should your home be close to the habitat of a protected species, you may find there are limits to what you can do to your home.

3 min read

Most of us enjoy the wildlife in our local area. However, when it comes to extending your home, you probably won’t have these little critters on your brain - but you might be surprised by how important they can be!

Should your home be close to the habitat of a protected species, you may find there are limits to what you can do to your home. In order to find out how your project impacts the local environment, you may be asked to carry out an ecological survey during the planning stage.

To help you understand if this applies to your development and what it involves, we’ve put together this handy guide to walk you through the ins and outs.

Do I need an ecological survey?

A planning authority will typically ask for an ecological report if there’s a chance European Protected Species (EPS) might be living in the surrounding area.

Habitats that tend to be suitable haunts for these creatures tend to be…

  • Timber-framed buildings or other traditional farm structures
  • A large suburban or rural garden
  • Any building that could be a habitat for bats, such as those with a large roof void, large roof timbers with joints and holes, or an uneven roof or wall covering with potential bat access points
  • Lakes or watercourses on or adjacent to your site
  • Nearby meadows, parkland, pasture or brownfield sites
  • Ponds or ditches on or within 500 metres of your property
  • Woodland, scrub or hedgerow which is on or nearby your home
  • Close-by coastal habitats
  • Features that may be used by wildlife, such as large or complex tree structures or caves

You will also need an ecological survey if there is an existing record of protected species within 2km of your site.

What does an ecological survey involve?

Unlike other surveys you’ll encounter, such as CCTV or measured surveys, ecological surveys come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They’re primarily differentiated by the type of species you’re looking to identify. So, you might find yourself needing a…

  • Great crested newt survey
  • Dormouse survey
  • Invertebrate survey
  • Reptile survey
  • Amphibian survey
  • Water vole survey
  • Otter survey
  • Bat survey
  • Badger set and signs survey

Don’t worry if you’re unsure which survey is right for your property. When you reach out to an ecological surveyor, they’ll first undertake a ‘preliminary ecological appraisal’. During this rapid assessment, they’ll quickly look over the site and decide what potential species might be present in the area. This will then help define what specific ecological survey you need next.

What happens after my ecological assessment?

If there is evidence of a protected species being present, your planning application will need to detail the impact any proposed project will have. This is where it can help to have an experienced architect onboard.

Failure to consider a protected species into your designs will mean your planner won’t be able to create clear mitigation strategies for your project to be able to go ahead.

Getting advice for your project

If you’re unsure about what kind of surveys and reports your project will require, talk to our team and get free expert advice. You can book a consultation at any time, simply by clicking here.

And if you do need help finding an ecological surveyor, visit our Connect partners to discover professionals in your local area.

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