I have been an ecologist now for 5 years and have seen all sorts over those years. I work for a Hampshire based company called Ecosupport Ltd, we deal with all the developments in the area as well as working with network rail and domestic people!
So, what do we do?
Well, we are basically the wildlife guardians ensuring they are all protected from developments. As most wildlife is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This prevents developers from unlawfully killing wildlife to aide their development. That's where we come in with a Phase 1 Survey which assesses the site for its potential for protected species, from this visit we will produce a report with the findings and whether further survey effort for targeted species is needed.
What do further surveys entail?
We have a tick list of species that are heavily protected. These are the following:
5. Water voles
7. Great Crested Newts and
8. Nesting birds
Once we have identified the site has potential for one of these, we will do a targeted survey to look for presence and absence. Following this, we will put in place further mitigation such as translocation if any of the species are present, or retain areas of habitats on site.
More reports follow and discussions with the county ecologists as to whether they agree with our findings. We also liaise with Natural England for licenses for European protected species such as bats, dormice and newts. These are more strictly protected and limits what work can be done.
My experiences have shown me that being pragmatic is the best approach and common sense prevails. Guidelines are there for a reason and reference, but don’t always suit the project!
We have also successfully prosecuted some rogue developers who have ignored our advice so don’t be scared to say no to disgruntled clients!
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