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Ecological assessments

Some planning proposals need surveys to assess and mitigate impacts on protected species and features.

Where it is identified that a planning proposal will have impacts on wildlife, these impacts should be mitigated. This is different to enhancement measures which are used to enhance the environment on the application site for wildlife. Your application should make it clear what is required for mitigation and what is proposed for enhancement. You may also need to engage an ecologist to carry out a survey.

Planning conditions

Planning conditions can be used to make sure development is carried out in certain ways to protect wildlife or trees as well as ensuring  the quality of development. In this way making a scheme which would otherwise be unacceptable, acceptable.  

Wildlife enhancement features

New development should enhance the environment for wildlife. Simple measures can be worked into most development projects to provide features for wildlife to use.

If you are applying for planning permission, wildlife enhancement can sometimes be part of a planning condition which requires further details (to be agreed with us later). To avoid additional applications and potentially costs due to a condition, enhancement measures can be detailed, and hopefully agreed, during the original planning application.

Generally enhancement measures should be:

  • Specific for the individual character of a site and the development proposal
  • Suitable for the scale and use of the proposed development
  • Detailed so the location, scale, style and purpose of the feature are clear (i.e. clearly shown on plans with text describing the measure(s)
  • Provide permanent or long-lasting features  
  • Well sited to increase the likelihood of its/their use

In householder development projects, such as extensions or new buildings, it is common to add permanent nesting features for nesting birds and/or roosting bats into the proposals. 

Permitted Development and Protected Species

We have produced guidance on requirements in relation to protected species and permitted development.

Conservation of bats

Guidance is available on how to protect bats when planning a development.

Horseshoe Bats: The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean

In Great Britain there are estimated to be approximately 50,400 lesser horseshoe bats and approximately 12,900 greater horseshoe bats. The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean support significant proportions of both populations (approximately 26% and 6% respectively).

Horseshoe bats thrive in this area because it contains a network of caves, disused mines, tunnels and old buildings that provide substantial roosting opportunities. These roosts are set in a landscape that is predominantly rural and wooded, providing high quality and well-connected foraging habitat.

A group of organisations relevant to Horseshoe bat conservation in the cross border Wye Valley and Forest of Dean area have come together to support the current SSSI and SAC populations through:

  • enhanced knowledge of the bats
  • positive management of their habitats
  • increased protection of sites not currently designated
  • provision of new and enhanced roosting opportunities within the wider area

Currently the group has produced a Bat Strategy, key references document and development management survey and assessment guidance. It is the intention of the group that these will be added to and regularly updated as new information, research and experience improves our understanding and knowledge.

These sources will be essential for those involved in assessing the ecological impacts of development proposals and wider land management.

Bats and lighting

Bats are nocturnal which makes them sensitive to artificial lighting. Inappropriate lighting can increase predation on bats, prevent them from feeding, commuting or getting in and out of their roost.

If bats are present you should get ecological advice and consult a lighting engineer in the early planning stages. More detailed information is available from The Bat Conservation Trust artificial lighting guidance.

The ecologist will need to provide:

  • identification of key habitats / roosts
  • recommended buffer zones and widths
  • species-appropriate lux limits (0 - 1 lux)
  • seasonal or time-based variations
  • requests for vertical, elevated horizontal or upward calculation planes (lux contour plans)

The lighting engineer will need to provide:

  • lux contour plans including those specified by ecologist
  • luminaire and complete lighting specification, number, model, output settings, maintenance factor
  • details of assumptions and conditions for example, duration, timers,
    internal lighting, curtains
  • an explanatory note including potential glare sources and mitigation

Mitigating the effect of development

You can mitigate the effect of development on bats by including dark buffers, illuminance limits, zonation, appropriate luminaires, sensitive site design, screening, glazing treatments, creation of alternative habitats and dimming.

Mitigation options should be recommended by the lighting engineer and the ecologist

Key lighting specifications

Lighting suitable for bats should have:

  • LED
  • warm white spectrum < 2700 Kelvin
  • a dimmable light, with motion sensors (PIR) and short timers
  • 0% upward light ratio
  • careful consideration of position and height
  • recessed internal lights
  • screening (planting, hardscape, hoods or cowls)