BSG Ecology was approached in 2012 by William Davis Ltd to provide ecological support for a planning application for 83 dwellings in Smalley, Derbyshire.
A range of baseline ecological surveys and reporting was completed to support the planning application. During the process of determination we had regular liaison with the non-statutory consultee advising the Local Planning Authority on ecological matters to agree the scope of survey information required and appropriate mitigation measures, which included the preparation of a mitigation strategy for bats and a habitat management plan. In addition, development licences for badger and bats were secured by BSG Ecology to allow the development to proceed.
BSG Ecology’s role
BSG Ecology was appointed to undertake a wide range of baseline ecological surveys and provide ecological advice from an early stage into the design of the development. Initially an extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and desk study were completed. This work identified the presence of an active (main) badger sett and a number of mature trees considered to have potential to support roosting bats. Hedgerows within the site were also considered likely to be used by bats for foraging and commuting purposes.
In order to assess the suitable roosting features identified on the trees, a series of aerial tree surveys were completed in conjunction with evening emergence and dawn re-entry survey work. A common pipistrelle roost was located in one of the trees and six noctule bats emerged from another tree during two evening emergence surveys.
The two trees supporting bat roosts could not be retained within the development due to their poor physical condition and proximity to housing and public open space. A European Protected Species Licence was secured in order to allow their removal. Mitigation measures agreed with Natural England included the incorporation of bat bricks into 20 houses, and the erection of 11 bat boxes on suitable trees within the southern wildlife corridor. In addition, the two sections of tree limb supporting the two bat roosts were carefully removed by tree surgeons (under our guidance) and installed on a suitably located retained mature tree.
BSG Ecology worked closely with the developer and landscape architect throughout the design phase to identify opportunities for enhancement. The detailed landscaping scheme included both the retention and management of key ecological features such as an area of woodland and a watercourse, together with the creation of new habitats within areas of open space, including meadow grassland, marshy grassland and new hedgerows.
The active badger setts were also taken into account by the developer during the design phase so that effects on them could be avoided or minimised.
The design was modified to allow the retention of the main badger sett and the associated broadleaved woodland as a wildlife corridor to be managed for nature conservation purposes. The majority of the hedgerows were incorporated into the Masterplan and will be managed to provide continued foraging opportunities for bats and badger. Where an impact could not be avoided, temporary closure of annex badger setts under a Natural England Development Licence was undertaken during the construction phase.
The Planning Inspectorate granted planning permission in December 2011 further to an appeal for non-ecology based reasons.
BSG Ecology subsequently produced a Habitat Management Plan for the retained and newly created habitats and also set out the approach to monitoring in relation to both badgers and bats in order to discharge planning conditions. Following the discharge of conditions, construction work commenced in 2014.