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Protected Species

Due to scarcity or restricted distribution many species are heavily protected under conservation legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and/or The Conservations (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997 (as amended). If species are covered under more than one Act they will receive the highest level of protection that either Act may afford at the discretion of the courts. This applies to developers and householders alike.

In addition Local Planning Authorities have obligations with respect to wildlife and protected species as a material consideration in planning applications under National Planning Policy Guidelines 14 (NPPG14) in Scotland. The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 also places a duty on authorities to enhance the biodiversity of local environments where possible, with the UK Biodiversity Action Plan an integral component for strategic biodiversity objectives.

It is vitally important for your project that you identify any potential ecological constraints at an early stage. Planners may quite correctly apply Conditions to your Planning Permission requiring a survey prior to works, and although species may not be found, a delay may be caused to your schedule and incur an expense well beyond that of a brief early assessment, such as an Extended Phase I Habitat Survey. Any information gathered can also feed into an Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA).

Experience has shown time and again that late discoveries of Bats or Badgers for example may require you to apply for a license to proceed and this will require sufficient information gathered during appropriate seasons to be robust in the eyes of Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations (SNCO) i.e. Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales and The Environment and Heritage Service for Northern Ireland. Legislative requirements regarding your site still stand regardless of Planning Permissions you have obtained.

European Protected Species (EPS) and Development Licences

There is a constant evolution in legislation and policy and changes to the UK Regulations imposed recently by the European Courts have meant both a greater level of pragmatism and greater responsibility placed on the developer for conservation.

It is advisable to carry out a study of existing information which will bring your site into context, and SNCOs will ask if this has been carried out to a sufficient standard. Such a study may reduce the costs of surveying since prior research work could negate the need for any additional surveys on your part.

Your site can be surveyed for protected species and if required a European Protected Species or Badger (non-EPS) license application can be compiled on your behalf to progress your proposals. It should be borne in mind that processing of the application by the SNCO can be a lengthy procedure (current advice is between 6 and 8 weeks), but the quality of applications is the key to a swift and successful outcome. Monitoring of significant ecological issues is standard practice and we can arrange an appropriate monitoring schedule that will fit to your project.

Alpha completes expert surveys for the following taxa and species

Research is also undertaken for less commonly occurring species such as Red Squirrel and Pine Marten, with the application of proven techniques for their assessment and conservation.

Selected sources of information and standard methods