Biodiversity Offsetting – Pandora’s Box, Nature Tax or a positive contribution to addressing biodiversity loss?

The development of a biodiversity offsetting scheme has been in the pipeline for some time, and a pilot scheme devised by Defra has recently come to an end. In essence, the Defra ‘metrics’ approach enables biodiversity credits to be calculated for habitats that will be unavoidably lost, and an equivalent value of credits provided through habitat restoration or creation to compensate for this loss.

BSG Ecology’s Invertebrate Specialists

At BSG Ecology we routinely field requests for invertebrate surveys. These can take many forms, but typically include: surveys of sites with potential to support invertebrate species or invertebrates associated with habitats of principal importance (NERC Act 2006); assessment of biological water quality of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers, using freshwater invertebrates as indicators of ecosystem health; or more bespoke surveys of protected or otherwise notable invertebrate species (e.g. white-clawed crayfish, or rare dragonfly or butterfly species).

What is an appropriate level of ecological work to support a single (large) turbine application?

There has been a considerable rise in the number of single turbine proposals over the past few years.  This has come about primarily as a result of the introduction of Government feed-in tariffs, which have provided incentives to develop single turbine schemes.  Despite the incentives, these small schemes generally have a limited budget if they are to be viable development propositions and sources of renewable energy.

Significant urban extension receives planning permission

BSG Ecology has been working on proposals for the Great Haddon urban expansion on the southern edge of Peterborough for over seven years. We were delighted to learn that in March this year Peterborough City Council granted outline planning permission for this significant development.

Ecosystem Services – is this how we will value our environment in the future?

Following recent ecosystem services review work undertaken by BSG Ecology, Steven Betts, a partner in our Newcastle office, recently attended the IEEM spring conference where the topic was under discussion. Although this technical discipline is not currently in the mainstream, it is evident that things are likely to change.  In this short viewpoint article Steven considers what ecosystem services involve, and the potential for its application in the future.

Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of the North East of England.

Senior Ecologist Vicky Armitage, a founder member of the Northumbria Mammal Group, has recently contributed to an important new publication – the culmination of an ambitious project to produce a book about the mammals of North East England.  It is the first account of all the mammal species across the region since 1864 – a gap of 150 years.  The publication summarises the status of each species in North East England at the beginning of the twenty first century.  In addition to mammals, the publication also includes accounts of reptile and amphibian species.

Pilot Study on Bat Migration at Dungeness

There is currently considerable uncertainty as to the extent to which bats migrate in and out of the UK from Continental Europe, although many experts in UK bat ecology consider that some degree of migration occurs.  Small scale research studies, development-related survey at coastal sites and records of bats on vessels and offshore oil rigs have provided indications that migratory movements occur in spring and autumn.  However, this gap in current knowledge does not appear to be being addressed through strategic studies.

Otter Holt Creation

Working in conjunction with Hanson Aggregates Ltd and the RSPB, BSG Ecology staff have created an otter holt at a gravel pit in Oxfordshire. The site has been chosen by the RSPB as a Nature After Minerals case study site, and is in the process of restoration.

Tree climbing survey for bats

Tree climbing surveys (sometimes known as aerial inspection surveys) are an effective way to assess a tree’s potential to support bats. This technique, which uses access skills borrowed from tree surgery, is far more definitive than ground-based survey, and can be very cost-effective.

Royal Forest of Dean home to rare fern

Over the last few years BSG Ecology has provided ecological support to a heritage lottery-funded project aimed at restoring Whitecliff Furnace, a Scheduled Ancient Monument near Coleford in the Royal Forest of Dean.  Our work to date has included detailed bat surveys to inform working methods which allowed the stabilization of the main furnace flue and re-pointing of masonry, whilst avoiding the need for a European Protected Species license.

Presentation to Public Inspectors

Dr Peter Shepherd and Owain Gabb were invited by the Planning Inspectorate to give presentations on ecological issues arising from wind energy proposals to a two day conference of planning inspectors in Bristol on the 24th and 25th January 2013. The presentation covered the range of ecological issues that have featured at planning inquiries into wind farm developments between 2005 and 2010, but focused primarily on issues relating to impacts on bats and birds.