Ecology Newcastle

Steve Betts, BSG Ecology Partner, led a biodiversity offsetting and net gain seminar to a large audience of developers and planning consultants in Newcastle on 27 February 2019. A key aim of the session was to share learning and promote good practice. The session set out a brief history of biodiversity offsetting and net gain in England and provided an overview of planning policy, which currently varies both locally and nationally.
Dr Peter Shepherd will be presenting on the 1st of February to a seminar on Environmental Impact Assessment organised by the North-east Regional section of the RTPI.  Peter has been asked to give a presentation on Biodiversity Offsetting: Implications for EIA and Mitigation. This is a subject BSG Ecology has been following closely since it was first promoted in the Natural Environment White Paper 2011 and a number of articles have appeared in our New and Views ever since and as such we are delighted to be asked to speak.
The benefits of and requirement for enhanced sustainability within developments is now firmly embedded in local and national planning policy in Scotland.  Whilst the provision of ‘Blue-Green Infrastructure¹ can be viewed as a hindrance, as it takes up land with a commercial value, it should also be viewed as an opportunity, potentially adding value to the wider development. On 17 March 2016, Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, will host an event organised by the “Living Cities Consortium” directed at major stakeholders involved in house building, construction, public realm improvements and delivery of new development across the public, private, voluntary and social enterprise sectors.  The purpose of this event is to highlight the range of opportunities that Blue-Green Infrastructure can provide.
In this article we consider the use of eDNA analysis of water samples to detect great crested newts, and discuss the results of some recent survey work.  Whilst we identify limitations that need to be considered, it is also recognised that the technique provides a useful additional method for detecting great crested newts, and we use it in appropriate circumstances at sites throughout the UK.  The method has been endorsed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing is a relatively new survey technique that can help determine the presence or absence of great crested newts in ponds. Since this is still a relatively new approach its practical application and limitations for field surveys some uncertainty remains in the ecology sector about how it should be best applied and what its practical limitations might be. This article discusses the potential applications of the process, and our perceptions of its limitations, which should be considered when planning survey work for great crested newt.
John Baker, Senior Ecologist in BSG Ecology’s Oxford office attended the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) annual conference at the University of Leicester held between the 1st and 3rd April 2014.  This year’s theme was the ecology and conservation of birds in upland and alpine habitats. Speakers came from across Europe and North America and included researchers from universities, consultants and representatives of NGOs.
At BSG Ecology we routinely field requests for invertebrate surveys. These can take many forms, but typically include: surveys of sites with potential to support invertebrate species or invertebrates associated with habitats of principal importance (NERC Act 2006); assessment of biological water quality of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers, using freshwater invertebrates as indicators of ecosystem health; or more bespoke surveys of protected or otherwise notable invertebrate species (e.g. white-clawed crayfish, or rare dragonfly or butterfly species).
Following recent ecosystem services review work undertaken by BSG Ecology, Steven Betts, a partner in our Newcastle office, recently attended the IEEM spring conference where the topic was under discussion. Although this technical discipline is not currently in the mainstream, it is evident that things are likely to change.  In this short viewpoint article Steven considers what ecosystem services involve, and the potential for its application in the future.
Senior Ecologist Vicky Armitage, a founder member of the Northumbria Mammal Group, has recently contributed to an important new publication – the culmination of an ambitious project to produce a book about the mammals of North East England.  It is the first account of all the mammal species across the region since 1864 - a gap of 150 years.  The publication summarises the status of each species in North East England at the beginning of the twenty first century.  In addition to mammals, the publication also includes accounts of reptile and amphibian species.
BSG Ecology regularly provides ecological input to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Home (CfSH) assessments.  It is our experience that the ecological (biodiversity) aspects of BREEAM and CfSH are an area where clients are often unaware of what is required.  In the viewpoint below, BSG Partner Steve Betts identifies some of the common issues that are encountered, and provides clients with advice and guidance to help them plan their way through the process and secure the credits they aspire to.