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There are many types of vegetative survey but the main two are the Phase 1 and NVC surveys.

The Phase 1 Survey provides a fast overview of vegetative habitats within an area whereas the NVC Survey (National Vegetative Classification) provides a more thorough audit of the individual species present which is normally required when assessing a sites potential for SSSI status.  The Phase 1 Survey can be extended to provide an assessment of the sites suitability to support protected species.  This is known as an Extended Phase 1 Survey and is recommended for most development projects early on in the planning cycle to ensure that no costly ecological delays occur later on.

For example:

A developer wishes to demolish a 10 acre farm complex to create affordable housing for the local community.  The farm complex comprises a farm house, several outbuildings and livestock sheds as well as an area of woodland 2 acres in extant.  The ecologist was commissioned in November to carry out an Extended Phase 1 Survey.

As well as mapping out the habitats on site, the survey revealed that there were an additional two ponds on site that were thought suitable for great crested newts.  The farm house and several of the outbuildings were also considered suitable for bats and evidence of badgers was found during the survey of the woodland.  Therefore a suite of ecological surveys were recommended including bats, great crested newts and badgers.

The badger survey and Stage 1 – Preliminary Ecological Appraisal for bats was conducted immediately (see Survey Calendar) with the survey for great crested newts waiting till the start of the survey season in March.

A badger sett was identified within the woodland area which allowed the developer to adjust the layout of the development and therefore avoid the need to apply for the a licence to disturb the sett.

The Stage 1 – Preliminary Ecological Appraisal found evidence of bats roosting within the farm house and one of the outbuildings.  Further survey work was recommended to provide the detailed information required for a European Protected Species Licence to destroy a bat roost.

The great crested newts started in March and found a small population of newts in both of the ponds.  As the ponds were within 150m of the proposed development area a European Protected Species Licence was applied for to exclude the newts from this area.  A period of trapping was carried out for 30 days using reptile fencing and pitfall traps to ensure no breach of legislation in regard to great crested newts.

The further survey work for bats began in May and continued through to August to give a picture of roost type and usage required to inform the required mitigation plan and licence application.  The licence was granted at the beginning of October and the houses were demolished by the beginning of November.  Alternate roosts were provided initially amongst the trees present using specially made bat boxes which were replaced by permanent features built into the new buildings.

The ecological works were conducted following best practice guidance.  A delay in the commissioning of these works could have resulted in a costly delay.  Surveying for newts mainly occurs between March and June.  If this is missed then up to a 12 month delay could occur.


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