UES were approached to carry out a Bat Presence / Absence Survey and a Great Crested Newt (GCN) Impact Assessment to support a planning application for the demolition and rebuild of a residential property in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Bat Survey

Bat presence / absence surveys highlighted roosting bats within the building in September 2017. Updated surveys undertaken in August 2018 and confirmed the previous survey data, which found that a total of five bats were roosting in the property; three common pipistrelle and two soprano pipistrelle. All surveys were carried out to recognised guidelines, timings and weather conditions with particular reference to Natural England and Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) publications. All surveyors held appropriate bat licences and were able to record roosting positions and identify the bat species using ultra-sonic detector equipment.

Due to the presence of roosting bats, which are protected by both domestic and international legislation, a licence granted by Natural England is necessary in order to carry out the proposed works. However, due to the low numbers of common species that were roosting in the building, the development qualified for Natural England’s Bat Low Impact Class Licence (BLICL). UES Managing Director, Toby Hart, is one of a small number of ecologists in the North West to possess this licence, and it allows our clients to streamline the licensing process when low numbers of commonly occurring species are found, as is often the case with residential developments.

Great Crested Newt Survey

The GCN impact assessment found a total of seven ponds within 250m of the proposed development boundary. One of these ponds was separated from the site by a number of residential dwellings and gardens, whilst another pond is a Koi carp pond and therefore unsuitable for GCN. The remaining five ponds were located within an area of woodland in the nearby landscape.

Using the Rapid Risk Assessment Tool developed by Natural England, the five ponds in the woodland were all classified as “average” quality ponds, which indicates that, without mitigation, the development proposals would likely constitute an offence. However, the development proposals were only due to affect habitats that are broadly unsuitable for crested newts such as the building, hardstanding driveway and a well-mown amenity lawn. As such, UES recommended a series of pragmatic reasonable avoidance measures (RAMs) in order to mitigate for any residual risk to GCN and to adhere to best practice guidelines, thus averting the need to go down a lengthy licensing route.