This short article summarises forthcoming licence charging changes detailed in Natural England’s Wildlife Licensing Newsletter of May 2019. It concentrates on those changes that are most relevant in terms of development projects.
Bat survey work needs to be designed in a project-specific manner to allow impacts on populations to be accurately assessed, effects mitigated and licenses achieved.
Our latest graduate training workshop, held in April 2019, provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss the scope and specification of bat surveys when faced with different development scenarios. It also included a field-based training session on tree assessment.
BSG Ecology are delighted to announce that we are able to offer Bat Low Impact (BLIMP) licensing in Scotland alongside the Bat Mitigation Class Licence (BMCL) in England. The purpose of these licences is to provide a streamlined approach to protected species licensing for bats in situations where a development is predicted to have limited impacts on bats.
At BSG, we regularly use thermal imaging technology to supplement more standard methods of data collection, and answer questions that need to be addressed in Ecological Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment work. In some circumstances, it can provide a more robust evidence base for our clients’ projects. The value of thermal imaging in wildlife recording has been recognised by NHBS, the largest supplier of wildlife, ecology and conservation books and equipment in Europe, who have used footage provided by BSG in their latest article entitled ‘NHBS Guide to Night Vision and Thermal Optics.’ Most of this footage has been collected in the course of commercial work.
On 14 March 2019 BSG Ecology, Womble Bond Dickinson and Scottish Power Renewables collaborated to deliver a seminar to wind farm developers and asset managers on the implications of recent guidance concerning bats and onshore wind farms published by Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. This was the second of two planned seminars on the subject, and took place at the Citizen M Hotel in central Glasgow.
On 5 March 2019 BSG Ecology and Womble Bond Dickinson collaborated to deliver a seminar to wind farm developers and asset managers on the implications of recent guidance concerning bats and onshore wind farms published by Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.
As many of our ecologists are actively working towards bat survey licences or assist in bat survey work, we run in-house training to address typical gaps in their knowledge and experience. The training also helps ensure that our bat fieldwork is of a very high standard, and our commercial work is robust.
The latest of these training events was a two day course held in our Oxford office in February 2019.
On 8 January 2019 Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) published “Bats and Onshore Wind Turbines: Survey, Assessment and Mitigation.” This is now the industry standard, and formally replaces Natural England’s TIN 051 and Chapter 10 of the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Guidance (Hundt, 2012). It is endorsed by all the statutory nature conservation stakeholders and by BCT.
This article provides an initial review of the changes in survey and monitoring the guidance brings, and comments on the implications of these for developers.
Natural England recently announced the formation of a Bat Expert Panel which is comprised of 10 nationally recognised experts from the academic, commercial and NGO and SNCO sectors. Members of the panel have been selected for their strong track record in bat conservation. BSG Ecology is delighted that Dr Peter Shepherd has been one of the experts invited to be a member of the panel.
BSG Ecology’s innovative use of thermal imaging to help better understand how bats are using Blenheim Palace's Grand Bridge has attracted the attention of the local media. The article Lives of Blenheim Palace bats are revealed in new projectpublished by the Oxford Press describes how the survey work has helped to identify where the bats are roosting, which is important as a multi-million-pound restoration project is proposed for the bridge.
A recent project at Houghton on the Hill, Leicestershire, provides a good example of how the Bat Low Impact Class Licence process can be applied to ensure a project proceeds to time and budget (despite unforeseen circumstances), while also acting to conserve bats.
BSG Ecology is leading the way in the effective use of thermal imagery as an essential tool in the delivery of a complete ecological consultancy service. We own several high-specification TI cameras and our staff are professionally trained in their use. This includes complex post-processing of radiometric data which reveals more meaningful information than simple visual interpretation.