Posts Tagged ‘ecological consultancy Cheshire’

Environmental mitigation for local road schemes

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

I recently attended a CIEEM event on environmental mitigation for local road schemes, which included a site visit to look at the mitigation designed and implemented as part of the A5758 Broom’s Cross Road (Thornton to Switch Island Link) in Sefton. The event was run by Stephen Birch, Strategic Transport Planning and Investment Team Leader for Sefton Council.

The 4.5km long A5758 Broom’s Cross Road, linking the A565 in Thornton with the M57/M58/A59/A5036 Switch Island junction opened to traffic in August 2015. The scheme was designed to provide a local bypass of Thornton and Netherton, to reduce congestion, provide a faster, more direct link to the motorway network and improve local environmental improvements along that busy corridor. Although the scheme did not have any major environmental impacts associated with it, a wide range of environmental mitigation measures were implemented, typical of what is now expected of new road schemes. The event provided the opportunity to consider the environmental mitigation measures proposed at the planning application stage and then see how they have been implemented on the ground.

The Link crossed mostly agricultural fields of modest habitat quality. However, species of nature conservation importance were found in the area. These included bats, Great crested newts, Water vole, Red squirrel, Barn owl and Pink-footed geese, Lapwings and Black-headed gulls from the nearby Ribble and Alt Estuaries Species Protection Area. Most species remained largely unaffected, but there were some limited local negative impacts which were compensated for by:

- attenuation ponds designed to have large areas of shallow water to provide suitable habitat for amphibians and deter fish introduction

- existing ponds managed to improve habitat quality for amphibians and Water voles

- creation of 4 new ponds to enhance habitat availability for aquatic wildlife including amphibians and Water voles

- mammal ledges incorporated into box culverts to allow safe passage of Badgers and other mammals

- replacement hedgerow planting

- management of road verges to deter foraging Barn owls

- specimen tree planting to provide ‘hop-over’ bat mitigation

- treatment of Japanese knotweed

The ecology surveys and mitigation proposals were produced by Jacobs. UES have worked with Jacobs on a number of projects including undertaking bat surveys of 31 schools across England including Yorkshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Greater London and Kent.

Kathryn

UES Senior Ecologist

 

Landscape design for bats – advice for developers

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Bat Conservation Trust  has recently published a new guide: Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity. It presents a range of simple features that a developer, consultant or designer can incorporate into a project with the aim of maximising the biodiversity with a focus on bats.

Modern building designs provide little opportunity for bats, they tend to be well sealed and are generally unsuitable for use by roosting bats. There are a number of features that can be incorporated into buildings that can improve the opportunities for bats while retaining the integrity of the building. Such as Bat Bricks within the building structure or Bat Boxes on surrounding trees.

Some species of bat prefer to roost in trees, finding small crevices, holes or cracks to squeeze in. Planting of appropriate native trees can greatly improve the long term roosting opportunities for local bats and bat boxes provide opportunities in the short term.

Bats are insectivores and landscape design for bat foraging opportunities involves improving the population and variety of nocturnal flying insects. Landscape design focusing on improving opportunities for foraging bats can indirectly improve the local wildlife.

Ideal foraging habitat for bats should include a variety of flowering plants with flowering periods staggered throughout the year. Green roofs seeded with wild flowers are an example of improved foraging opportunities and can also improve the buildings insulation.

The main focus when designing landscapes for commuting bats is appropriate lighting. Most bat species are sensitive to light levels and will avoid well lit areas. The provision of linear features, such as hedgerows, planted trees or dark corridors are ideal.

Landscape design focusing on bats can greatly improve local wildlife and some projects can be awarded credits for ecological features in BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes assessment. Careful planning during the design stages can prevent the need for expensive mitigation and survey works further down the line.

UES Ltd has several years’ experience in ecological project management and has guided many large capital infra-structure schemes. UES Ltd is an expert in Landscape design focusing on protected species and ecological features.

Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey & Code for Sustainable Homes in Wirral, Merseyside

Monday, January 9th, 2012

UES have recently been commissioned to complete Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and Code for Sustainable Homes: Category 9 (Ecology) assessments for 7 sites in Wirral, Merseyside for Wirral Partnership Homes.

Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The Code aims to reduce our carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable. The Code measures the sustainability of a new home against nine categories:

  1. Energy and carbon dioxide
  2. Water
  3. Materials
  4. Surface water runoff
  5. Waste
  6. Pollution
  7. Health and well-being
  8. Management
  9. Ecology

A total of 9 credits are available in Category 9 (Ecology), representing 12% of the points contribution in total. The approximate weighted value of each ecological credit is 1.33, second only to that of Category 2 (Water) at 1.50. The aim of Category 9 is to:

  • promote development on land that already has a limited value to wildlife, and discourage the development of ecologically valuable sites.
  • enhance the ecological value of a site.
  • promote the protection of existing ecological features from substantial damage during the clearing of the site and the completion of construction works.
  • minimise reductions and promote an improvement in ecological value.
  • promote the most efficient use of a building’s footprint by ensuring that land and material use is optimised across the development.

Bat and ecological scoping survey in Swindon

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

UES recently completed a bat and ecological scoping survey of a farm in Swindon. Our client has plans to demolish a number of buildings on site and convert other buildings for use as a hotel.

13 buildings were surveyed in total, of which 5 were identified as having high potential for use by bats. Low number of bat droppings believed to be long-eared species Plecotus were found in the internal roof spaces of the farmhouse. UES recommended further surveys on these buildings prior to the start on site to determine how many bats are present and how they are using the buildings.

All bats and their roosts are fully protected by law. Without detailed surveys you are at risk of destroying a bat roost or foraging grounds, which could have devastating consequences for the local bat population, and could land you with a fine or even a jail sentence and some very bad publicity.

During the survey UES recognised that the buildings and trees on site were all suitable for use by roosting and breeding birds, therefore any building works should be carried out outside of the breeding bird season (March to August inclusive) in order that breeding birds are not affected. If this is not possible then either a targeted breeding bird survey should be carried out or an ecological clerk of works appointed.

All breeding birds are protected under schedule 9 of the wildlife and countryside act 1981(as amended). Wild birds are protected from being killed, injured or captured. Their nests are protected from being damaged, destroyed or taken. Several species are included in schedule 1 of the act which gives them and their young protection while nesting.

The presence of protected species is a material consideration when a planning authority is considering a development proposal. The presence of protected species and the effect of the proposed development must be established before planning permission can be granted.

Bat scoping survey in Lancashire

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

UES recently completed a bat scoping survey of a house and associated outbuildings in Lancashire. Our client has plans to demolish a number of buildings onsite and is applying for planning permission for a new build housing scheme.

The aim of the survey was to assess the site for the presence of bat roosts and bat activity within the structure of the buildings. The buildings were searched both externally and internally for bat presence and features associated with bat activity, as detailed in Bat Conservation Trust guidance (2007).

No field signs of bats such as droppings, feeding remains, rubbing or urine stains were found during the building inspections, and as such UES deemed that no further survey work was required in relation to bats.

However, house sparrows were observed breeding inside the building, and therefore mitigation and compensation measures were suggested in relation to breeding birds as ‘The Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981’ states that all wild birds are protected. Under the WCA, it is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird, to take damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird, or to take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.

Dormouse survey in Oxfordshire

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

UES have recently completed a dormouse survey of a site in Oxfordshire. The proposed development involves the removal of a number of trees along a woodland edge to form encampments.

UES completed an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey of the site in May 2011. The survey highlighted areas of low coppiced hazel, coppiced silver birch, blackthorn and honeysuckle within the woodland which have some potential for use by dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius).

UES completed a desk study of the site, which found records of dormice in a SSSI woodland near to the proposed site, as such dormouse presence / absence surveys were completed, which involved searching the site for hazelnuts that had been characteristically gnawed by dormice.

Breeding bird survey in Knutsford, Cheshire

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Ivy covered wall. A potential habitat for breeding birds.

UES have completed a breeding bird survey of a site in Knutsford, Cheshire in order to meet planning conditions. A breeding bird survey involves recording bird activity that is likely to indicate breeding. Behaviour considered likely to indicate breeding includes singing, display flights, mating and courtship displays, nesting, carrying of nesting material and birds showing fidelity to a particular area of ground or vegetation.

Breeding bird surveys and vegetation searches were carried out on site. 18 species of bird were heard or seen on or local to site but no evidence of breeding birds within the site boundary was found. Wren was recorded singing on site and could possibly of been breeding. Suitable habitats would include mature trees and/or an Ivy covered wall on site.

Other species heard or seen on or local to site included Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Cormorant, Pied wagtail, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Goldcrest, Carrion crow, Song thrush, Jackdaw, Magpie, Blue tit, Nuthatch, Coal tit and Dunnock.

Grasses, sedges and rushes course in the Yorkshire Dales

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

At the beginning of August Toby attended a week-long professional development course on grasses, sedges and rushes run by Judith Allison at Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales.

Malham Tarn NNR is designated a Grade 1 SSSI by Natural England and is an excellent place to study grasses, sedges and rushes due to the diversity of habitats found there, including heather, moorland, peat bogs, limestone grassland and limestone pavement, ash and oak woodland, high altitude fens and calcareous flushes. Malham Tarn also boasts that one third of the c.107 British members of the sedge family (Cyperaceae) can be seen within walking distance.

Toby encountered over 50 different species of grasses, sedges and rushes in the field. The trip proved to be a great experience and a real help to identifying different species of grasses, sedges and rushes.

Images of species encountered can be seen at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyhart/sets/72157627445592338/

Great crested newt pond scoping survey in Lower Peover, Cheshire

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Great crested newt larvae

UES were commissioned in June 2011 to conduct a great crested newt pond scoping survey to assess potential presence of great crested newts within 250m of the development footprint.

Development works within 250m of a great crested newt pond are often subject to a Natural England European Protected Species Licence (EPSL). It is stressed by Natural England to try and redesign a project to remove any potential impacts on great crested newt populations and associated habitats in order to remove the need for licensing.

The field methods used to survey ponds are:

  1. Bottle trapping
  2. Egg search
  3. Torch surveys
  4. Netting

Natural England recommend using at least three of the methods outlined above when conducting a pond survey. Smooth newts and great crested newt eggs and larvae were found in ponds within 250m of the development.

UES proposed that by designing the project timings and working methods to avoid impacts, any potential impacts on local great crested newt populations and habitats could be effectively removed, or reduced to a negligible level thereby removing the need for protected species licensing.

Moth monitoring surveys

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

UES have now spotted 72 species of macro-moth so far during monitoring surveys, including the Lime-speck pug moth. Moths with narrow outstretched wings are ‘usually’ pug moths, members of the Eupithecia family.

The Lime-speck pug is very distinctive with its lime white wings and large dark ‘speck’ on the leading edge of wing. It is thought that this species may resemble a bird-dropping and thus reduce attraction to predators.

Other species observed recently include Dark arches, Flame carpet,  Small phoenix, Buff arches, Buff tip, Common wainscot, Early thorn, Light arches, Riband wave, The Clay and The Olive moth.