UES were commissioned to carry out a baseline ecological survey of a parcel of land in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. The land parcel is predominantly a brownfield site which had an area of approximately 4.0 hectares.

A preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) is the first stage of most developments and it can be completed at any time of the year. Also known as a phase 1 habitat survey, this survey involves informing developers whether there are any protected species or habitats on site and what ecological issues are likely to be encountered. This survey involves a full assessment by our expert surveyors to produce a comprehensive list of plant species on site.

Perhaps surprisingly, brownfield sites are often home to many rare species which take advantage of the mosaic of habitats that are often found in a small area. In recognition of this, ‘Open Mosaic Habitat on Previously Developed Land’ has been added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) in 2007 as a Priority Habitat. Along with hedgerows, woodland, ponds and many other habitat types, UK BAP Priority Habitats are identified as those being most threatened and requiring conservation action.

As part of this PEA, several ecological issues were highlighted including:

  • Breeding birds – breeding birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), however, site clearance can still be undertaken outside of the breeding bird season
  • Invasive species – depending on the extent of the invasive species, a method statement may need to be produced to detail how the species’ will be contained and eradicated
  • Otters – this site is located adjacent to a canal, which has records of otters occurring within it. Light spill and input into the watercourse are therefore important issues to consider

Furthermore, the site was also highlighted as being a mosaic of habitats, which may be home to key invertebrate species associated with open mosaic habitats. As such, a single invertebrate survey was also carried out in order to characterise the assemblage of species occurring within the site. UES are supported by experienced entomologists and we are experienced at surveying and mitigating for invertebrates to ensure a positive outcome for planning applications. In this case, the site was not found to be rich in invertebrate species and therefore required no additional surveys.

Our team work closely with developers to achieve a positive planning application.

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