What does an Ecological Clerk of Works do?

An Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) will help you to ensure work on your development is done according to all the rules and regulations by working with your contractors. They can make sure work is carried out efficiently and reduce the likelihood of work being held up.

Some planning conditions and licences require an ECoW to work on a project, for example, if there is a particular protected species or habitat to consider. However, even if this isn’t a stipulation, an ECoW is a worthwhile investment for your project.

What will an ECoW do?

An ECoW will monitor what’s going on at your site, making sure the provisions put in place to reduce the negative impact of your development are being followed – an important role, as failing to protect local biodiversity can lead to fines and even imprisonment.

They’ll also make sure that any mitigation measures agreed during the planning process are put into place.

ECoWs have a range of skills which can make them invaluable on site. They can give you practical advice on how you can protect biodiversity on site, how to comply with environmental legislation and manage any other environmental experts brought onto site for tasks like monitoring or moving protected species.

By looking after the biodiversity requirements of your site, an ECoW can save money by preventing unnecessary delays, avoid bad publicity caused by failure to look after the environment, and ultimately protect you from legal action if regulations aren’t followed.

You need to trust your ECoW and be confident that they will work well with your contractors while protecting you from the potential pitfalls of poor environmental management. The ideal person for the role of ECoW will have practical skills and knowledge, problem solving skills and the ability to build good relationships with those working on site

What can I expect an ECoW to do?

Ideally, an ECoW will be involved in your project from the start, giving them the opportunity to spot potential problems and suggest the best alternatives at an early stage. If brought in early enough, they can help to prepare documents for your planning application, carry out or organise surveys and give advice on how to look after local biodiversity from protected species to entire habitats, as well as suggest what can be done to mitigate any damage.

Once development work starts, an ECoW can give toolbox talks on site, take part in site meetings, and keep records and produce reports as needed.

As each development is different, so too are the challenges an ECoW can help you overcome. You can find ECoWs on projects ranging from highways and rail infrastructure, to residential developments, utilities and renewables.

How do I choose a reputable ECoW?

It’s hoped that in the near future there will be a formal qualification for experts who carry out the ECoW role. In the meantime, good things to look for are:

  • Knowledge of Health and Safety laws and best practice
  • Thorough understanding of environmental regulation and legislation
  • Up to date CSCS card
  • Licensing for particular protected species
  • Experience of keeping records and producing reports.

To discuss how the right ECoW could benefit your development project, get in touch on 01225 459564 or email

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To discuss your project requirements, please contact our experienced team