Ecological survey for design and construction
Ecological surveys identify the habitats and/or species that exist within an area at the time of the survey. Most development proposals will have the potential to impact on the local biodiversity of the development site either through the direct loss of habitats, the reduction in the value of the habitat or the ability of the habitat to support the species that depend on them. Early identification of any ecological constraints ensures that development proposals are not delayed and appropriate mitigation or compensation is incorporated into the design phase.
 Purpose of ecological surveys
Undertaking ecological surveys will ensure that:
- The developer or applicant are aware of any ecological constraints at an early stage.
- The development can be designed to minimise impacts on biodiversity.
- Any legally protected species (European or British) or notable species (listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, Red listed, locally rare or listed on Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006) will be identified so that the development can avoid or minimise impacts on them.
- The design of mitigation and enhancement measures will be appropriate to the site and surrounding area.
- The local planning authority can consider all the relevant material considerations whilst determining an application.
The majority of development proposals require consideration of the impacts of the proposed works on the biodiversity within the site, or close to it.
A preliminary ecological appraisal, typically an Extended Phase I Habitat Survey (Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2010; Institute of Environmental Assessment 1995) may be required which will identify the habitats and the potential for the site to support protected species or notable species. The findings of the Extended Phase I Habitat Survey will inform the requirements (if any) for further surveys (see below). The findings of any ecological surveys will typically need to be submitted to the local planning authority in advance of a planning application to ensure that the appropriate information is available to determine an application.
 BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes assessments
- An assessment of the ecological value of the site and how this will change post-development.
- Recommendations for the protection of ecological features and mitigating impact.
- Recommendations of how to enhance the site for ecology.
- An assessment of the long-term impact on biodiversity, which can include a management plan for the development.
 Types of ecological surveys
- Extended Phase I Habitat Survey (baseline assessment which determines that broad habitat types within a site and the potential for the site to support protected/notable species).
- Botanical surveys (including National Vegetation Classification (NVC)).
- Water vole.
- Great crested newts.
- Natterjack toads.
- Smooth snakes.
Ecological surveys should be undertaken by appropriately experienced and competent consultant ecologists. They should hold the relevant species licence (if applicable) appropriate to the survey being undertaken. Surveyors should meet the competencies set out by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.
The ecological consultant (ecologist) will produce a detailed survey report on completion of the ecological survey. The report will detail the survey findings together with an assessment of how the proposed development could be expected to impact on habitats and species that are present at the site and suggested mitigation designed to reduce those impacts. Any limitations to the survey or findings are also included.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Biodiversity in the urban environment.
- Biodiversity offsetting.
- Building survey.
- Code for sustainable homes.
- Condition survey.
- Ecological impact assessment.
- Eco-Management and Audit Scheme.
- Environmental Impact Assessment.
- Environmental policy.
- Environmental plan.
- Great crested newt.
- Land surveying.
- Landscape architect.
- Minerals surveyor.
- Planning permission.
- Preliminary ecological appraisal.
- Protected species.
- Site survey.
- Tree preservation order.
 External references
- Competencies for Species Survey (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management).
- Habitats and species of principal importance.
- Handbook for Phase I Habitat Survey.
- Natural England.
- Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management).
- UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
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