BSG Ecology undertook bat surveys in relation to the re-development of a complex of buildings (the former Music School) at St Edward’s School, Oxford. This work identified the presence of a common pipistrelle roost. A European Protected Species Mitigation licence was subsequently secured and implemented that allowed the re-development to proceed lawfully.
The school has a range of existing environmental policies (including recycling and green energy policies) and they expressed an interest in continuing to work with BSG. As a result, we were asked to prepare them an Ecology Policy and to deliver a talk on wildlife law and its relevance to building maintenance and estate management.
Approach to Developing the Policy
To inform the preparation of the Ecology Policy, an initial appraisal of the ecological value of the land holding was undertaken. There were three elements to the work:
- A desk study to gather existing ecological information in relation to the Site and the local area.
- An extended Phase 1 habitat survey, including a detailed external inspection of the buildings.
- A report outlining methods and results and identifying the key findings.
The report included recommendations to increase biodiversity interest (through habitat enhancement and creation), to undertake targeted further survey work to increase understanding of the biodiversity interest of the land holding, and to identify basic steps to mitigate effects on protected species / species groups which might be affected by maintenance and estate management works.
BSG Ecology is currently working with the school to implement the Ecology Policy including making ongoing refinements. Key aspects of the policy are as follows:
- Provision of information to the building maintenance and estates management teams that they need to identify when their programme of works might affect protected species, how they could mitigate potential effects through alterations to their programme, and when they might need to bring in external ecological support to identify and mitigate effects.
- Provision of advice on sustainable changes to estate land management practices to benefit biodiversity.
- Identification of opportunities for habitat creation as part of estates work.
- Establishment of an Ecology Steering Group to inform and engage teaching staff, pupils and other employees of the School about the valued ecological resources present within the land holding.
- Preparation of an Ecology Policy document that can be shared with stakeholders (including parents and the school governors) to demonstrate that St Edward’s School carefully considers ecological issues and aims to integrate measures to maintain and enhance biodiversity within its estate and building maintenance and management works.
As part of the roll out of the policy, BSG Ecology will provide a presentation to estates and buildings maintenance staff, in order to demonstrate how measures to benefit biodiversity can be integrated within their day-to-day work and longer term planning.
We are also providing an ongoing ‘call-out service’ to provide a rapid response for any ecological issues which may arise during building and estate work.
The implementation of the Ecology Policy should result in various benefits to the school. These will include greater awareness of the biodiversity value of the grounds and buildings by staff, pupils and the estate team, which in turn will lead to greater engagement with this interest, improved management for biodiversity (including habitat creation), and less likelihood of an offence being inadvertently committed through better planning of routine work.
The Policy also demonstrates that St Edward’s School takes its responsibilities with regard to biodiversity very seriously, which is likely to be an important message for many parents and other schools.
Further information about St Edward’s School can be found here.