Dormouse surveys

You will usually be asked for dormouse surveys if you’ve had a preliminary ecological appraisal that has identified habitats suitable for dormice on your site.

The type of dormouse surveys you’ll need depends on your project. For example, if you are only removing a small area of suitable habitat, you are likely to only need a walkover survey. This involves searching for evidence of dormice, such as characteristically gnawed hazelnut shells, and nests in dense vegetation.

For large-scale projects, nest tube and nest box surveys are usually required by the Local Planning Authority to establish if dormice are present or absent from site.

The optimal months for nut searches are September to November, while nest tube and nest box surveys are March to October.

What happens next?

If no dormice are recorded using the site, no further survey work is needed and we will be able to provide a report to secure planning permission.

If dormice are recorded using the site, and their habitat can’t be retained or avoided, you will need a development licence from Natural England or Natural Resources Wales. We can apply for the licence once you have got planning permission.

You will also usually have to submit a dormouse method statement to the Local Planning Authority as part of your planning application.

Protection status

Hazel dormice are offered full protection through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. If both national and international legislation are taken together, it is an offence to:

  • Deliberately, intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or capture dormice
  • Deliberately, intentionally or recklessly disturb dormice in such a way to be likely to significantly affect:
    • Their ability to survive, breed, reproduce, rear or nurture their young
    • Their ability to hibernate or migrate
    • Their local distribution or abundance
  • Damage or destroy breeding sites or resting places of dormice
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb sheltering dormice, or obstruct access to their resting place
  • Keep, transport, sell or exchange, or offer for sale or exchange any live or dead dormouse, any part of a dormouse or anything derived from a dormouse.

Penalties for offences include fines of up to £5,000, plus up to six months imprisonment, for each offence committed.

Dormice are also listed under Section 41 of the NERC Act.

Are we the right dormice surveyors for you?

At UES, our ecologists are experienced in surveying and mitigating for dormice to ensure a positive outcome for your planning application.

Our surveyors are also members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), who promote the highest standards of practice through a professional code of conduct and continuing professional development.

For more information on the legal protection of hazel dormice or on dormice survey methodology, please click the below links: