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It is not always clear to a self-builder when an ecological survey is required. You should attach a report from a qualified ecologist to your planning application in the following circumstance: where the characteristics of your site and its surrounds suggest suitable habitat for any European Protected Species.

Any of the following might indicate a requirement for such a report:

  • The planned works will affect a traditional timber framed building or other traditional farm building
  • There is a large suburban or rural garden
  • A building is in disuse or has one of more features suggesting suitability for bats. These might include a large roof void, large roof timbers with joints and holes, an uneven roof or wall covering with potential access points
  • Lakes or water courses on or adjacent to the site
  • Heathland on or adjacent to suitable habitat to the site
    Areas of meadow, parkland, pasture or ‘brownfield’ sites, adjacent to or linked to the site
  • Ponds or ditches on the site or within 500 metres of the site
  • Woodland, scrub or hedgerow on, adjacent to or linked, for example by hedgerows, to the site
  • Coastal habitat in the vicinity
  • Features which may be in use by wildlife, for example large, gnarled or complex tree structures or humid caves or cave-like spaces
  • Existing records of protected species within two kilometres of the site, for example from local residents or the Local Records Centre.

This information is in line with guidance from Natural England to authorities making decisions on planning applications. For the majority of projects a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) is the first step in the process. It will identify any direct evidence of protected species and any habitat suitable to support protected species on site, and whether you need to engage in further species surveys or vegetation surveys.

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