Ecological Services, which houses the Warwickshire biological records centre (WBRC), also provides ecological advice relating to the planning process.
Many of our native plants and animal species are legally protected to varying degrees. For example all bat species, great crested newts and otters are protected under both UK and European law and badgers are protected under their own badger act.
Planners, therefore, have to take into account protected species and sites when considering planning applications and that’s where the ecology units consultation service comes in.
For each application, the team of ecologists look at the plans and use mapping software to see if there are any records of protected species nearby that may be affected by the development. They also conduct site visits and surveys if more information is required to assess potential ecological impact.
They then use this information to make an ecological recommendation to the local authority planning department, which can be anything from approval without any ecological constraints to refusal.
Bats and planning
Information for planning applicants, agents and developers
If you are submitting a planning application that may affect bats (for example, if the roof will be significantly affected by the works) you may have questions about bats and planning such as:
- why do I need a bat survey?
- what does a bat survey involve?
- will I still be able to go ahead with my development if I have bats?
For answers to these and many more questions you may have, please refer to our useful PDF:
For information on who can carry out bat surveys, you can search for ecological consultants online, or you could visit the Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Managers. On this website, you can search the institute’s commercial directory of consultants to find local ecologists who can carry out the work for you. We recommend that you obtain a number of quotes as prices can vary considerably. If you have any further questions, please contact us.
Information for Ecological Consultants
For a bat survey report to be accepted, the consultant must be able to demonstrate that sufficient survey effort has been carried out (in accordance with page 39 of the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Good Practice Guidelines). As a general rule, this would include a daytime internal and external survey of the site and at least two activity surveys, conducted with sufficient manpower and equipment. For example, surveys of multi-pitch buildings using a single surveyor are generally considered to be inadequate. Any deviation from BCT good practice should be justified within the report.
We expect bat survey reports to include sufficient detail to enable the ecology unit to feel confident in the findings of the survey and use them to inform subsequent recommendations. For this to be possible, we need to see certain essential information such as date of survey, who carried it out and details of their relevant experience (with licence number where appropriate), weather conditions, suitably sourced desk study of existing information, detailed methodology, detailed plan of the site, detailed results and subsequent recommendations with an explanation and justification for any conclusions. This is a uniform standard that we expect from all consultants and failure to adhere to this standard could result in the report being rejected by the Ecology Unit.
We assess bat surveys against the BCT bat survey, good practice guidelines – in particular, see pages 27-28.
As a consequence of the recent judicial review (the Cheshire case), if a natural England protected species derogation is required, discussion of the three derogation criteria will be needed in the report in order to justify the potential use of a planning condition. In addition, the report should include sufficient information to illustrate that appropriate mitigation measures will be possible within the scheme.
Protected Species in Warwickshire
European protected species (EPS) are protected under the conservation regulations. EPS found in Warwickshire include:
- all species of bat
- great crested newt
- white-clawed crayfish
- water vole
- barn owl
- grass snake
- common lizard
There are also some species that are given a certain level of protection within the planning process as they are the subject of a biodiversity action plan (BAP) at either the UK level or local level, and often both.
There are many wildlife pieces of legislation that affect planning and developments in Warwickshire. Here you should find most of the information that you will need, but please contact us if you require more specific help and advice.
- Wildlife and Countryside Act - this is the main legislation for the protection of wildlife in Great Britain. The act is separated into four parts – part 1 deals with the protection of wildlife. Species offered varying levels of protection by the act are listed under different schedules. The most important schedules in planning terms are schedule 1 (protected bird species), schedule 5 (other protected species of animal) and schedule 8 (protected plant species).
- Countryside and Rights of Way Act - the section of the act entitled ‘Nature Conservation’ strengthens and updates the Wildlife and Countryside Act legislation for protected species and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). It also places a duty on government departments to take biodiversity into consideration in all their functions.
- Conservation Regulations - this legislation lists European protected species of animals under its schedule 2. Species listed on schedule 2 are therefore offered a higher level of protection than those only listed on schedules of the Wildlife and Countryside.
- Protection of Badgers Act - amongst other things, this legislation makes it an offence to take, kill or injure a badger or disturb its sett.
In addition to wildlife legislation, there are certain pieces of planning legislation that are central to the ecology units planning advice:
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act - paragraph 40(1) of the act places a duty on local authorities and other public bodies to consider the conservation of biodiversity when carrying out all of their functions.