What is a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal?

A preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) also known as a phase 1 habitat survey will establish the baseline ecological conditions on site and identify key ecological constraints to the proposed project.

What does a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal involve? 

During the first stage of any PEA survey, we carry out a desk-based study to see whether there are any protected sites or records of protected species in your local area.

Our expert surveyors will then visit the site, classifying the habitats located there as part of the phase 1 habitat survey, producing a comprehensive list of the plant species, and searching for signs of protected species.

We use the information gathered on our site visits to determine whether the habitats on site are of ecological value, and whether any protected species are likely to be present.

Water forget-me-not plants growing in ponds can be a favoured egg-laying location for great crested newts, for example, while mature trees with rot holes and other cavities can be used by roosting bats or nesting birds.

What happens next?

Our PEA report will tell you which habitats and species are present, or potentially present, on your site.

If the site is of low ecological value with no protected species issues, you will be able to use your PEA report to secure planning permission.

If our surveyors identify protected species or habitats on site, we’ll advise you on any further surveys or mitigation that might need to be carried out. Carrying out a PEA early in your planning process will give you an indication of any potential ecological issues, helping you to avoid costly delays.

Are we the right surveyors for you?

Our surveyors undergo an annual botanical exam (field identification skills certificate), run by Manchester Metropolitan University and the Botanical Society for Britain and Ireland (BSBI). All our surveyors have a level four FISC or above, which certifies them as competent to undertake preliminary ecological appraisals, as well as more complex national vegetation classification (NVC) surveys.

Our surveys follow the methodology set out in the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s ‘Handbook for phase 1 habitat survey’ (JNCC, 2010), as recommended in the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management’s ‘Guidelines for preliminary ecological appraisal’ (CIEEM, 2013).

In addition, our surveyors are members of the CIEEM, which promotes the highest standards of practice through a professional code of conduct and continuing professional development.