A British Standard for Biodiversity

The emerging draft of BS42020 Biodiversity – Code of Practice for Planning and Development provides opportunities for improved consistency and objectivity across all professional ecologists involved in delivering advice on ecology matters in advance of and during the planning application process. The BS will apply to those working in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Bat Survey Work in Poland

One of BSG Ecology’s current projects has seen Senior Ecologist Hannah Bilston design and implement a bat survey programme for a proposed 20 turbine wind farm in Poland.

Winwick Wind Farm Public Inquiry

This article provides a brief review of a recent appeal decision for a proposed seven wind turbine scheme in Northamptonshire.  It also continues Dr Peter Shepherd’s review of wind farm public inquiry decisions following his recent note on the Kelmarsh and Watford Lodge wind farm appeal decisions.

Translocation of Lizard Orchids

In September 2011 BSG Ecology was commissioned to prepare and implement a method statement for the translocation of a small population of lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) on a brownfield field site near Ramsgate in Kent.

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.

Recent Wind Farm Public Inquiry Decisions and Wildlife Issues

Over the last 18 months Dr Peter Shepherd has appeared at 3 public inquiries into wind farms, providing expert witness evidence in each case on the impact of the proposed schemes on local bat populations. These reviews concerned a proposed wind farm at Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire, which sat shortly after a nearby inquiry into a wind farm proposal at Watford Lodge. Both inquiries have now been determined and a number of interesting points arise from these decisions which Peter reviews in the attached paper.

Cost-effective Wildlife Surveillance

There are standard techniques for the survey of many protected animal species in the UK, particularly for those that remain common and widespread at the national or regional level.   These protocols are useful, but taking a formulaic approach to survey work doesn’t always address the question that needs answering.  In certain circumstances the use of equipment such as motion-activated cameras and video recorders can significantly increase the value of a survey programme and allow a greater level of confidence in the interpretation of results at very little extra cost.  Innovative use of technology can also help engagement with consultees and engender confidence in survey results.

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.

Bats in the… blast furnace?

Baker Shepherd Gillespie (BSG) recently provided advice for a lottery-funded project to preserve a blast furnace in the Royal Forest of Dean, an area renowned for its industrial heritage.