BSG Ecology has provided expert witness advice and evidence for numerous public inquiries, planning hearings and examinations in public, particularly concerning wind farms, road schemes, urban extensions, local plans and mineral extraction. Key ecological issues dealt with at inquiry have been varied, and include effects on designated sites, protected species (particularly bats), and habitats.
Several of our staff have direct experience as expert witnesses, and several more have formed part of project support teams at public inquiry and land arbitrations. We have provided expert witness support on over 30 schemes.
Expert Witness Capability
Our team combines wide-ranging consultancy experience with technical knowledge and expertise that enables BSG Ecology to provide appropriate support in a wide variety of circumstances. Our expertise is regularly called upon for wind farms at the appeal stage, including for sites where we have not been previously involved in the survey and ecological impact assessment work. Client engagement in this regard is a reflection of BSG Ecology’s high reputation and acknowledged experience in this area.
We have provided expert witness services to projects including:
- Wind farm developments;
- Road schemes (local and trunk road);
- New airports;
- Major urban extensions;
- Retail development;
- Local Development Plan allocations;
- Local Waste Plan allocations;
- Mineral extraction;
- Private single house developments;
- Criminal prosecutions;
- Land valuation arbitration.
Our clients include the private, commercial and local authority sectors and we have worked with a number of solicitors and chambers. The cases in which we have been involved cover a wide range of subjects and impacts, although we have seen an upsurge in the number of wind farm appeals since 2010, particularly those involving detailed consideration of bats and turbines. A sample of other subjects which have been addressed in case we have been involved in are:
- Nitrogen deposition and shading impacts on internationally important sites (nightjar, raised mires and open water wetland);
- Loss of habitat from internationally important sites including SACs;
- Disturbance effects from increased visitor pressure on internationally designated sites;
- Impacts on many biotic groups including plants, bats, badger, water vole, reptiles, great crested newt, otter, dormouse, breeding birds and wintering birds;
- Impacts on non-statutory designated sites and habitats and species of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity (Priority species).
Ecology Expert Witness Services
Our team has experience in the full process of providing ecology expert witness services to public inquiries and examinations in public including:
- Appraisal of the ecology case;
- Attendance of conferences with the inquiry team, client and counsel;
- Preparation of written representations and proofs of evidence;
- Preparation of cross-examination notes for counsel;
- Preparation of detailed papers on specialist subjects;
- Drafting of Statements of Common Ground;
- Preparation of rebuttal proofs;
- Preparation and presentation of oral evidence;
- Preparation and presentation of evidence to court proceedings.
Our approach always involves support from other senior consultants within BSG Ecology. This ensures that we are able to thoroughly test our arguments and opinion during the preparation of written material, as well as in advance of presentation in public to ensure that we are fully prepared, in what we know can be a challenging and adversarial process.