Cambridge University Boat Club approached The Ecology Consultancy’s East Anglia Office for their help with proposals to build a new boathouse on the banks of the River Great Ouse near Ely in north Cambridgeshire, our protected species surveys and expert stakeholder engagement helped the client navigate through public objections and gain successful planning permission.
The site is adjacent to two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) including Ely Pits & Meadows and part of it is also within a County Wildlife Site. As the SSSI is a nationally important site for wetland birds, including bittern, it was clear that protected species surveys would be required.
Owing to its sensitive location, there was much public consultation and a significant number of objections to the scheme. The local authority planners received nearly 500 consultation responses, approximately two thirds objecting to the plans, many expressing concern about the potential impact on protected species.
The Ecology Consultancy undertook a suite of protected species surveys, including breeding bird surveys of the adjacent designated sites. The protected species survey results fed into an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA), which objectively measures potential impacts on wildlife in a sensitive sites.
Closely liaising with the client, Natural England, and other stakeholders and consultees, The Ecology Consultancy proposed a well-balanced package of mitigation measures to address the impacts on protected species and other concerns raised during the objections, which the client has implemented. They also supported the client by attending Planning Committee meetings and helped them respond to planning objections.
The Ecology Consultancy’s collaborative approach to stakeholder engagement and the responsive adjustment to proposals resulted in planning consent being granted in September 2013.
The Ecology Consultancy then produced a detailed management and mitigation strategy, in accordance with planning conditions. It involved habitat creation at an off-site location, to provide compensation for lost habitat and impact on protected species, and biodiversity enhancement of the local area. They also produced a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to guide work through the various phases; and oversaw the work to create new wetland and reed beds.
Ewan Pearson, Executive Chairman, Cambridge University Boat Club: “The Ecology Consultancy were instrumental in helping us gain planning consent for the new Cambridge University Boathouse in Ely. Their expert knowledge of local biodiversity and the planning process, and a pragmatic approach to stakeholder engagement ensured that environmental concerns could be sensitively addressed. Their input helped us to achieve our ecological goal of enhancing the local area for wildlife.”