Bat Survey Guidelines

The second edition of Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines has recently been published by the Bat Conservation Trust, and this builds upon the guidance set out in the first edition and draws upon a range of new information.  It is likely that this document will quickly become established as the new standard for bat survey work, and for this reason it is important that developers and others understand the implications for their projects.  Some of the key points are summarised below, and further advice is available from BSG Ecology.

Bats and Micro-wind Energy Schemes

BSG Ecology has been delivering ecological survey and assessment in support of wind farm and large single turbine applications for a considerable time.   Over the past year, however, we have begun to field a considerable number of queries about small-scale turbines, typically to provide electricity for individual industrial units or farms.  The requirement for our input often arises as a result of consultee concerns about potential impacts on bats.

STOP PRESS – TALBOT HEATH DECISION PUBLISHED

A decision by the Secretary of State (SoS) on a public inquiry into residential development at land south of Wallisdown Road, Poole was published on 28th February (PINS Ref: APP/Q1255/V/10/2138124). This was a key case called in by the SoS as it involved residential and associated development within 400m of Talbot Heath, which is part of the Dorset Heaths SPA. Understandably Natural England and the RSPB had maintained an objection to the scheme throughout the planning process as this represented a significant departure from their published guidance on development near heathland sites. The decision to grant planning permission by Borough of Poole Council has been overturned by this decision.

Disturbance and increased visitor pressure impacts on internationally designated sites

Internationally designated sites such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar Sites can have ramifications for development and other activities a long way beyond their immediate boundaries. Where these sites might be affected, impact assessment and decision making is sometimes highly precautionary, meaning that activities many miles removed from these sites can and do come under the closest scrutiny.

Environmental Interpretation: the importance of saying it right

An often forgotten part of delivering the aims of a conservation project or a conservation site is telling the wider-world about what’s going on.  Getting the interpretation right is essential in the promotion of an organisation’s commitment to biodiversity, and can help to raise that organisation’s environmental profile.

Planning, law and ecology – all change!

Proposals to significantly change the planning and regulatory systems are currently under consideration; however, any new approach in respect of ecology is unlikely to be resolved quickly.

Cheverton Down Wind Farm – Review of appeal decision

Dr Peter Shepherd (BSG Partner) was asked to give evidence on behalf of the appellant as the impact on bats was a main issue at this public inquiry. As part of our on-going analysis of wind farm appeal decisions, a review of the Cheverton Down Wind Farm inquiry is presented in an article, written by Dr Shepherd, which includes comments and observations on the appeal decision (issued on 30 August 2011).

Biodiversity Planning Toolkit

The Biodiversity Planning Toolkit is a new online resource designed to facilitate the incorporation of biodiversity into the planning system and new development at an early stage within the UK. The Toolkit has been created and launched by the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) working in partnership with a wide range of conservation and planning organisations.

Wildlife and Development on Jersey

Jersey’s Island Plan came into force in June 2011, carrying with it clear statements about the importance of protecting, promoting and enhancing the natural environment. It also makes clear a requirement to support planning applications that might affect important or protected biodiversity sites with an appropriate level of ecological information.

Feed-in Tariff Single Wind Turbine Developments

The UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT), an initiative to provide incentives to people who generate renewable energy to feed some of the electricity back into the National Grid, has generated a lot of interest amongst developers and landowners. In particular, single wind turbine developments are now proving to be very popular but, as with any development, the erection of even a single wind turbine can potentially have impacts on the environment, including ecology.