Ecological impact assessment, mitigation and compensation
Sources of advice
Guidelines for ecological survey, impact assessment and mitigation may be available from relevant organisations and professional institutes. For example:
- Natural England
- Environment Agency
- Department for Transport - Design Manual for Roads and Bridges
- Association of Local Government Ecologists
- The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
- The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
- British Standards Institution (BS 42020)
- Town and Country Planning Association
- Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA)
- Non-Governmental organisations concerned with nature conservation such as the Bat Conservation Trust.
Ecological survey and assessment
If ecological surveys and assessments are needed, they must be undertaken by suitably qualified and experienced people who hold any necessary survey licences for protected species.
Lists of ecological consultants may be available from relevant professional institutes, for example, The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Surveys must be undertaken during appropriate seasons and in accordance with relevant recognised guidelines.
An ecological assessment to inform a planning application may typically include the following elements.
- Data Search (sources should include the Lancashire Environmental Records Network and, where relevant, local groups such as bird, bat, mammal, reptile and amphibian groups).
- Information detailing survey personnel, qualifications, licences and experience, equipment and methods used, and any survey limitations.
- Habitat Survey of the site, adjacent land and proposed mitigation land (Commonly JNCC Phase 1 methodology).
- Assessment of the habitats in terms of their potential to support species of ecological interest.
- Phase 2 habitat surveys if the need is indicated by the Phase 1 survey.
- An assessment of faunal interest.
- Surveys for protected and priority species likely to be affected.
- Surveys for invasive and injurious weeds.
- Assessment of the conservation status and ecological importance of habitats and species found.
- Maps showing the location of all species, habitats and features of nature conservation significance.
- An assessment of likely impacts on species, habitats and designated sites.
Measures to avoid, mitigate or compensate for ecological impacts
The results of ecological surveys and assessments should be used to inform the development proposals.
Ecological impacts should first be avoided, for example through consideration of alternative sites with less harmful impacts and through appropriate design of the scheme.
If ecological impacts can be shown to be unavoidable then details will need to be provided to demonstrate how ecological impacts will be mitigated, what measures will be implemented to fully compensate for unavoidable impacts and how biodiversity will be enhanced.
Necessary measures to avoid, mitigate or compensate for predicted ecological impacts would typically include the following:
- Locating and designing the development to avoid ecological impacts.
- Precautionary measures for the avoidance of ecological impacts.
- Measures to mitigate unavoidable ecological impacts.
- Measures to compensate for unavoidable ecological impacts, for example, details of habitat re-establishment.
- Proposals for the maintenance and enhancement of habitat connectivity.
- Buffer zones around designated sites or habitats of ecological importance.
- Proposals for off-setting any residual ecological impacts.
- Proposals for preventing the spread of invasive and injurious weeds.
- Information to demonstrate compliance with wildlife protection legislation.
- Information to demonstrate how any licencing requirements will be addressed.
- Proposals for the long-term protection and management of retained and replacement habitats, designated sites and associated species.
- Proposals for the protection of habitats and species on adjacent land during construction and operational phases of the development.
- Biodiversity enhancement measures.