Other considerations before you start work

Wildlife Assessment Check

This sponsored content article is provided by Biodiversity in Planning

What is the Wildlife Assessment Check?

Whether a development site is in a rural or urban area, it’s vital that wildlife and habitats are considered as a part of the project to avoid habitat loss, fragmentation and the damaging impact of daily human activity on nature.

Development sites can put pressure on different habitats, which can threaten vulnerable species that are classified as ‘protected’ and ‘priority’ species. ‘Protected’ species are protected by law, as outlined by Natural England, and include: mammals such as bats, hazel dormice, water voles; birds such as the Hen Harrier and Dartford Warbler; amphibians such as Natter Jack toads; and molluscs and invertebrates such as the Roman snail and the High Brown Fritillary Butterfly; as well as many plants like the Corn Marigold. There are also 1,150 ‘Priority’ species in the UK which are threatened species and require conservation. This threat from development is why the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning has created the ‘Wildlife Assessment Check’ tool. The online tool is free and identifies whether there are any protected or priority wildlife species in the location where proposed works are to take place.

Who is it for?

Householders and smaller developers may be unaware that local authorities have a statutory requirement to consider the ecological impact of developments, and to promote improvements to biodiversity. This can result in delays and additional knock-on costs for projects, such as when unforeseen ecological surveys have to be carried out during particular seasons. So, if you’re a homeowner with a desire for a new kitchen extension, or a developer working on a small-scale project, the Wildlife Assessment Check tool can help cut delays and costs by assessing your site early on.

Its very straight forward and simple to use, particularly the map at the start is fast and easy.”
Feedback from planning applicant

The Wildlife Assessment Check also supports local planning authorities in the process of validating planning applications, helping them to meet their biodiversity duty, by encouraging applicants to consider wildlife in advance of making a planning application.

The feedback from our technicians validating applications is that it is very useful as a tool
Local planning officer feedback

How does it work?

It’s a free online tool that’s easy to use and allows you to check if you need expert ecological advice before submitting your planning application. You simply answer some quick questions about the site, the location, and type of works involved.

Once you’ve completed the questions in the tool, which takes around 5 minutes, the website will tell you whether your project is likely to require professional ecological advice. It will also outline the potential protected and priority wildlife species that need to be considered. There are guidance notes for each species with information about key legislation, mitigation requirements, ideas to improve habitats, and survey timing. The tool also provides you with a report that you can download and give to a consultant ecologist to help indicate whether they need to undertake ecological surveys, they can also submit it as a part of your planning application.

Why is it important?

One in ten UK species are now threatened with extinction. Since 1970’s many UK wildlife species have been in decline, with over 1,200 species extinct or threatened with extinction (State of nature report, 2016). New development projects have a wide-ranging impact on our wildlife. Protected and priority species are threatened when developments change or damage the structure of the natural environment. Sensitive landscape design can help threatened species like hedgehogs and swallows to recover.

Considering local ecology early can also help avoid unplanned for delays, unexpected costs, and prevent the need to reassess potential ecological impacts during a planning application. It can also start the process of thinking how you might improve the habitats and biodiversity as a part of the project.

You can access the tool at www.biodiversityinplanning.org. The website also contains additional information and resources to encourage you to take greater account of biodiversity in your projects.

The Wildlife Assessment Check has been developed by the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning, a partnership of 19 conservation, planning and development organisations and is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Contact: pbp@bats.org.uk
Visit: www.biodiversityinplanning.org