Bats have been shown to forage up to 10km away from the roosts, with hedgerows, woodland edges around grazed pasture, wooded/tree lined watercourses, marshes, and scrub areas proven to be the most valuable foraging environments for horseshoe bats (Billington & Rawlinson 2006).
Protected species surveys in Lydney
Site: Lydney, Gloucestershire
Client: MMC Land and Regeneration
UES were instructed to carry out ecological surveys on a former golf course near Lydney, Gloucestershire, to provide supporting information for a large scale housing development. A suite of species specific surveys were completed in order to inform the design process, and to safeguard protected habitats and species. Surveys included:
• Bat activity surveys and aerial tree assessments
• Reptile population size class assessment
• Great crested newt scoping survey and impact assessment & presence / absence survey
• Invertebrate survey
• Hedgerow survey
• Breeding bird survey
• Badger survey
Furthermore, an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) was undertaken to assess the likely significant effects as a result of the construction and operational phases of the development.
The EcIA identified various impacts on ecological receptors up to a county level due to the presence, or potential presence, of protected or priority species / habitats within the site boundary. The main ecological issues on site related to bats and reptiles for which individual mitigation strategies were prepared.
The project site does not contain any designated sites. However, it lies within the Core Sustenance Zone (CSZ) of the Devil’s Chapel Scowles SSSI, which is a component site of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Sites SAC. The SSSI lies 3.3km to the northwest of the site and supports a hibernation roost of lesser and greater horseshoe bats. The project also lies within the CSZ of Holms Farm, a lesser horseshoe maternity roost. This roost lies approximately 1.5km to the northwest of the site and whilst it is currently undesignated, the bats from this roost over-winter within the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Sites SAC. As such this lesser horseshoe bat colony is considered a qualifying feature of the European Site.
The bat mitigation strategy set out a series of ecological enhancements, which were site specific and were recommended in order to mitigate for the loss of horseshoe bat foraging and commuting habitat on site. The ecological enhancements seek to retain the wildlife value of the site as well as significantly increasing the amenity value and resulting enjoyment of home owners.
The reptile population size class assessment found that the site supports a good population of adult slow-worms. The proposed development will have a direct impact on the reptile habitat on site, and site clearance and construction activities have the potential to injure or kill reptiles on site. Mitigation measures were detailed in the reptile mitigation strategy to ensure that the development is compliant with all relevant legislation and policy, and that the developed site is likely to support the same species in similar numbers. Habitats lost will be compensated for with native species-rich hedgerow, tree and woodland planting, and the creation of grassland ‘rides’ suitable for use by slow-worms and common lizards. A number of new waterbodies will also be created on site, which will be suitable for use by grass snakes.
A landscape and ecological management plan (LEMP) and ecological design strategy (EDS) are to be produced to ensure that protected species are protected throughout the construction and operational phases of the development.