UES were appointed to act as an ecological clerk of works (ECoW) due to the presence of nesting birds at a site in Sandbach, Cheshire. The buildings of a former industrial building were scheduled to be demolished and the site cleared for the development of residential houses.
UES undertook bird surveys to identify the number, species and location of the birds and nests within the proposed development area. Breeding birds recorded on site included Little ringer plovers, a Schedule 1 protected species. All wild birds, their nests and young are protected throughout England and Wales by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is illegal to kill, injure or take any wild bird, or damage or destroy the nest or eggs of breeding birds. The legislation applies to all bird species, common and rare.
In addition to the protection afforded to all wild birds, more vulnerable species listed on Schedule 1 of the Act, such as Little ringed plover, receive enhanced protection when breeding. Schedule 1 species, including their dependent young, are protected from intentional or reckless disturbance whilst at or near the nest, in addition to the protection afforded to the more common species.
All nests were protected by establishing an exclusion zone around the nests, demarcated by hi-visibility tape. A toobox talk was given to all contractors, to make them aware of the locations of the nests and to inform them of the legal status of nesting birds. The contractors were informed that the nests and surrounding buffer zones must remain free from disturbance until all young had fledged. Penalties for offences include fines of up to £5000, plus up to six months imprisonment, for each offence committed.
To enable the site clearance and construction works to continue on site UES monitored the nests throughout the breeding season and ensured the exclusion zones were upheld. Weekly updates were provided on the status of the nests so that once the young had fledged works could immediately proceed in that area.