You must employ an ecologist straight away to avoid any possible delays.

We need an ecologist survey report before we can make a decision on species licence applications.

When you need to employ an ecologist

You will need to use a professional ecologist to carry out a species survey and write the survey report. The ecologist will make sure that your project reduces any impact on the species. They will make sure your project also complies with the protected species legislation.

The report is needed by the local planning authority before they can make a decision on planning applications.

You must make sure there is enough time to allow for protected species surveys to be carried out. These surveys must be carried out at the right time of year.

If you have work planned that is going to affect the habitat of a species you may need to amend that work to reduce the impact.

Your work should minimise any impact on the species habitat at all times.

You must not carry out any work that could affect the protected species or their habitats before the species survey has been done. This could constitute an offence. It is not a defence to say that you were not aware of the presence of protected species.

What the ecologist should provide

The ecologist should provide a written report of the survey, stating:

  • what they found
  • what the impact of the proposed work will be on any protected species at the site
  • if a protected species licence is required

If there will be impacts to species, the report should include a method statement. This should show how the work will be carried out to avoid or minimise impacts, for example by changing the timing of the works, or retaining features used by the species.

The report should state if extra surveys and monitoring visits will be needed. If these are not included in their proposal, you should be aware that this will incur extra costs post development. This is to ensure that the mitigation is effective.

Finding an ecologist

Some local authorities have lists of ecologists working in their area.

We cannot recommend an ecologist and do not have lists of ecologists you can use.

You can contact the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. They have detailed guidance on how to engage an ecologist.

You can also contact the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.