Ecological Appraisal

Does My Planning Application Need an Ecological Report?

Planning authorities have a statutory duty to consider the protection of biodiversity when determining a planning application.

From a barn conversion to a strategic housing development, your application is likely to require ecological information about your site, and provide suitable mitigation to protect and enhance biodiversity in your design.

A Preliminary  Ecological Appraisal will provide you with information on the wildlife that you will need to protect, mitigate or enhance, and help you to comply with relevant wildlife laws and policies.

When should I obtain an ecological appraisal?

Conducting the ecological appraisal at the very beginning of the application process, prior to site design, means that biodiversity protection and mitigation can be carefully considered an encorporated into site desing,  and won’t unnecessarily delay your application.

Ecological Appraisals can be conducted at any time of the year, although March to September  is generally preferred as the appraisals can provide more comprehensive results and avoid seasonal limitations leading to further surveys.

 What should I expect from an ecological appraisal?

An ecological appraisal is an initial investigation of the habitats and wildlife within and surrounding your site.

It can vary, but Engain’s Ecological Appraisal includes:

  • A site survey (based on the industry standard Phase 1 Habitat Survey Methodology) to map the key habitats such as hedgerows, watercourses, mature trees, woodland and grassland, and record any signs of protected animal species.
  • A desk based assessment of the historic biological data records of protected wildlife species and potentially affected designated wildlife sites
  • Invasive and notifiable weeds, such as Japanese knotweed or Himalayan balsam, will be identified as well, so you are fully aware of your duties to protect the environment.
  • Advice on our initial findings and on mitigation options to avoid impact and enhance biodiversity
  • A report to submit to the Planning Authority providing the findings, compliance and enhancement options, with supporting data, maps and figures.

The outcome may specify the need for further, detailed, protected species surveys, such as for bats or great crested newts. These surveys need to take place at specific times of year due to the life cycle or behaviours of the species.

Appraisals are also used to establish a baseline for strategic masterplans or infrastructure projects where an Environmental Impact Assessment may be stipulated to inform and support an application.

What are the key biodiversity considerations for my application?

While each site is unique, there are common, key features and species to consider.

Designated wildlife sites:

  • Special Areas of Conservation
  • Specially Protected Areas
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • National Nature Reserves
  • County Wildlife Sites
  • Local Nature Reserves.

Protected (and other) species:

  • Bats
  • Badgers
  • Otters
  • Water voles
  • Nesting birds
  • Great crested newts
  • Reptiles – slow worms, adders, grass snakes, and lizards
  • Dormice
  • White-clawed crayfish.

Who can carry out an ecological appraisal for my application?

You should engage a qualified ecologist to advise you about the conditions of your site for wildlife and how this will affect your application.

Engain’s ecological consultants will conduct a comprehensive Preliminary Ecological Appraisal of your site and advise you of any additional evidence you may be required to obtain for your application. Surveying for protected species also requires special licences which our ecologists hold.

Getting an expert involved from the start will reduce the risk of any surprises or delays later on in the planning and development process.

To discuss what is needed in your Ecological Report and how best to approach it, contact our expert ecologists on 01225 459564 or email

Get in touch

To discuss your project requirements, please contact our experienced team