Working with wildlife on site, such as otters

Working with wildlife at every stage of your development

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

This article was first published on the CIRIA network blog, and written by Dr Rachel Saunders, Principal Ecologist at The Ecology Consultancy and CIRIA Trainer.

Love it or hate it, ecology is an integral part of most development projects and is becoming ever more so with changes to the myriad of legislation and planning policy around wildlife and biodiversity within the UK.

Even in the most urban of areas, many development sites will have some wildlife interest. However, the importance of their role in supporting populations of native flora and fauna, and maintaining habitat connectivity across the wider landscape, is not always obvious.

Wildlife, construction sites, and the law

Picture the scenario. There has been an incident on site. All work in the area has been halted. The individual involved and the construction company could both be prosecuted, resulting in a fine of up to £5,000 or a six-month prison sentence. The crime? A tree felled on site was found to be a bat roost. Did you know that it is illegal to kill, capture or disturb bats, and only licensed bat-workers are allowed to enter bat roosts or to capture or handle bats? Consider that potentially every building and tree could be a bat roost. Would you know the steps necessary to avoid falling foul of the law? And it isn’t just bats. You will come across many an article proclaiming the extortionate cost to development of individual great crested newts, for example. A wide range of species and their habitats are afforded strict legal protection under UK and EU legislation. Furthermore, the need to conserveand enhance valuable habitats and species is now enshrined in local and national planning policy with expectations that all developments will result in a net gain to biodiversity.Working with wildlife, such as great crested newt

Providing guidance for the construction industry

To the uninitiated, securing the necessary planning consents and successfully developing a site which positively benefits both humans and wildlife must seem fraught with difficulty with potential obstacles (and cost) at every stage. Fear not! Help is out there to guide you through the process and ensure ecology is factored in at the earliest stage to minimise risks of project delay and cost. CIRIA has always been instrumental in providing targeted and concise guidance to the construction industry; in partnership with The Ecology Consultancy, two editions of Working with Wildlife: guidance for the construction industry have been published, as well as a series of accompanying training events over two decades. And it doesn’t stop there. In 2019, a free Working with Wildlife app was released, a handy reference guide for anyone in the field or office!

Taking part in the latest Working with Wildlife training

A new Working with Wildlife training course was also launched in 2019 – fully revised and updated to incorporate all the recent changes to legislation and planning policy, as well as latest initiatives aimed at safeguarding and promoting biodiversity on construction sites and beyond, including protection of aquatic habitats and consideration on invasive non-native species. Addressing the relationship between wildlife and construction, the training provides clarity on roles and responsibilities, and promotes the principle of moving beyond the minimum legal requirements and how the industry can have a positive role in contributing to biodiversity through sensitive design. Importantly it offers guidance on how to deal with and avoid problems, be it at the master-planning or construction phase. So, why not come along and see what it’s all about, share your experiences, good and bad, and keep ahead of the game?

Book your tickets 

The CIRIA Working with Wildlife CPD-accredited training, delivered by The Ecology Consultancy’s experts, is taking place in both London and Manchester this year. Manchester course – 11 March, venue TBC. Delivered by Dr Alex Ramsay. Find out more and book here. London course – 23 April, CIRIA offices. Delivered by Dr Rachel Saunders. Find out more and book here
Published 5th February 2020.

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