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.

BSG Ecology – A new name and a positive future

Over the last two years we have been looking hard at everything we do to improve the way we carry out our business and how we provide the best ecology service to our clients. As a result we have instigated a number of positive changes at all levels of the business. As part of this important process of change and investment for the future we will from 19th March 2012 trade as BSG Ecology.

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.

BSG Opens Swansea Office

BSG Ecology opens a new office in Swansea, South Wales on 1 March 2012.  This will be led by Owain Gabb, Principal Ecologist, who has moved to Wales after two years in our Oxford office.

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.

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.

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.