Why might you need to have an ecological survey undertaken?
There are a number of reasons why ecological surveys should be required:
The National Planning Policy Framework refers specifically to biodiversity in paragraph 170d stating that ‘planning policy and decisions should contribute to an enhance the natural and local environment by:
d) minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures;’
In addition, paragraph 175 of the NPPF states: ‘When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should apply the following principles:
a) if significant harm to biodiversity resulting from a development cannot be avoided (through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused;’
Therefore ecological surveys are required to enable planning decisions to be made in accordance with the NPPF to confirm whether significant harm to biodiversity will result from development, and if to inform an avoidance, mitigation and compensation strategy to ensure compliance with the NPPF.
- The survey and report will provide advice to inform you of your legal responsibilities in relation to wildlife and those species protected by legislation, including bats, badgers and great crested newts.
- Should protected species be found on site then the works on site may have to stop in certain areas or all together. The results of the survey will help to inform a mitigation and compensation strategy, ensuring that costs and delays are minimised and factored into the proposals, if required, at an early stage.
What if I need one but choose not to have one properly undertaken?
There are a number of risks should you require a professional ecological survey but not have one completed:
- There is a risk of a prosecution being brought against you should you recklessly or deliberately disturb or harm a number of species protected by law. This could lead to up to imprisonment and/or a significant fine.
- There is a risk that planning permission will not be granted should an ecological survey not have been completed or have been completed at an incorrect time of year causing delays and costs.
- There is a risk of reputational damage should ecological surveys and subsequent mitigation and compensation strategies not be completed.