Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) establish baseline conditions and evaluate the importance of any ecological features present (or those that could be present) within the specified site. It has two main elements; an ecological desk study and an extended Phase 1 habitat survey.
When undertaking the desk study, MEL collates data on statutory designated sites, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and priority habitats. We also contact the local biological records centre to obtain details of locally designated sites for wildlife and existing records of protected and priority species in the vicinity of the site. The data from these and other sources is brought together using GIS to provide a printed map.
With regard to habitats and vegetation PEAs follow Phase 1 Habitat Survey guidelines as set out by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee of the UK (JNCC, 2010; IEA1995).
The Appraisal will:
The results of baseline appraisals will often form the basis for more detailed or specific ecological surveys, and for the setting of site management objectives.
As part of the PEA, MEL are able to advise on any initial ecological issues that we identify, for example, in relation to designated sites and priority habitats, and also what is likely to be required in order to complete the ecological assessment, for example, surveys for protected species. Initial guidance on measures that could be incorporated into the development design to avoid and mitigate ecological impacts can also be provided at this stage. The PEA can therefore be an extremely useful tool for development masterplanning and can also form the basis of an ecological impact assessment later on in the project.
It is important to note that most, if not all, planning applications will require an assessment of ecological effects. In most cases a PEA will not provide all of the information required by the regulatory bodies to determine a planning application, but it will be helpful in informing a developer of the key ecological constraints, design options, requirements for further surveys and mitigation measures. It can also be useful in providing a basis for consultation with the determining authority and other stakeholders.
Contact us if you would like to enquire or receive any further information on preliminary ecological appraisals on 01676 525880
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