The development team had originally used another ecological company. Unfortunately bothNatural England and Knowsley Planning department had issues with the level and type of surveys which had been carried out and refused licences on the basis of inadequate survey and mitigation planning on the site. This lead to the project being delayed by more than 5 years, the planning team eventually had to accept the loss of both time and money and decided to start from scratch.
UES were commissioned in 2008 to carry out Ecological surveys to establish the presence of protected species onsite, and work alongside the planning team to ensure that works on site had no impact on protected species and where possible improved habitats for all species locally.
Tarbock Hall is a 86 hectare parcel of land west of Liverpool. The land was used for agriculture until 2000 when it was sold to a team of developers who wanted to restore the dilapidated farm buildings on site as luxury houses and also create a golf course on the surrounding land.
Because the project had the potential to impact on protected species the local planning authority advised that surveys must be carried out before any work could take place.
==Where to begin==
With developments of any size it is important to establish at the planning stage what species are likely to be present onsite. This can help you to allow for any extra time which may be needed before the start of work. The standard way to do this is with an Extended Phase 1 habitat survey (link to phase 1 page). This is a survey which catalogues the habitats present on site and gives an indication of the type of species which are likely to be using the area. The survey also records any specific sightings or field signs of protected species.
Following the phase 1 survey it was decided that further survey work was needed to establish the baseline data for the site.
The surveys required were:
• Great Crested Newt presence / absence and population size class surveys
• Bat surveys of the buildings affected
• Breeding bird surveys
• National Vegetation Classification survey
• Macro invertebrate surveys
A search of all ecological records for the site and surrounding area was completed by the local records centre (Cheshire rEcord). The search found records of great crested newts, barn owl, water vole and several bat species.
==Creat Crested Newt Surveys==
Great crested newt surveys were carried out on all ponds within 500m of the development area. This included several ponds which were on third party land. After a full set of surveys only 1 pond was found to have great crested newts present. The number of great crested newts caught reflected a medium population in the pond and surrounding terrestrial habitat.
==Mitigation and Planning==
A mitigation plan was developed which would allow the development to go ahead and provide an improved habitat for the local population of great crested newts. This involved creating several new ponds across the whole site and setting aside areas which would be left as rough grassland as well as restoring hedgerows (which are an important connectivity feature for great crested newts and bats). Great crested newt fencing could then be erected dividing the area and containing all of the great crested newts. This area could then be trapped out and the newts moved to another area on site.
A European Protected Species licence was then written and applied for through Natural England which explained the plans for the great crested newts. Natural England initially had some objections to the scheme (mainly because of the size of the site). We invited the Natural England case officer to the site in order to show her the plans and put the case across for the development. Natural England agreed that adequate survey had taken place and that the scheme would represent an improvement in habitat quality for the local population of great crested newts.
==Trapping and Relocation==
The trapping scheme went ahead in 2009 with over 100 great crested newts being moved into a receptor area during a 60 day trapping scheme.
The project is now in the construction phase and we continue to monitor its progress with monthly compliance visits.