2020 marks the beginning of The Ecology Consultancy’s third decade of making places better for people and wildlife. Since being founded in 1999 by John Newton, we have grown to become one of the largest dedicated consultancies run buy ecologists in the UK, working on a range of projects, large and small, and developing a reputation for delivering high-quality work
On the occasion of The Ecology Consultancy’s 21st anniversary, take a look back with us to uncover the key milestones in the company’s rich history, and get a glimpse of the numerous achievements and amazing projects we have been involved in over the years.
From a desk in John Newton’s spare room, to 6 offices and a total of over 100 staff, in the last 20 years, we have grown to become one of the UK’s leading ecological consultancies, offering a wealth of experience and delivering an evermore comprehensive range of services, from the Cornish countryside to the shores of Scotland.
The Environment Bill, formally introduced to Parliament in October 2019 and reintroduced and given its first reading on the 30th January 2020, makes it a mandatory requirement for developments in England to deliver a biodiversity net gain of at least 10%.
The Ecology Consultancy has released a guidance note to help you understand the emerging questions surrounding what is the most significant change to biodiversity legislation in this country since the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Find out more and get in touch here.
Our internal training programme ‘The Orchard’ started the new decade in a flurry of activity, with a comprehensive range of both inward and outward facing training opportunities. We look forward to another year of nurturing internal knowledge-sharing, investing in staff development and contributing to industry talent.
As an integral part of the proposed District Level Licensing for Great Crested Newt, Natural England is gathering an evidence base across England using eDNA analysis of water samples.
The Ecology Consultancy was commissioned by Natural England early in 2019 to carry out surveys for the Norfolk and Suffolk area.The data collected through eDNA pond surveys is now available online as open data.
Read on to find out more, and explore what has been happening on just a few of the longer-term projects we have worked on over the last couple of years.
In October, The Ecology Consultancy and Temple celebrated their fourth annual Green Week, a chance to learn about green initiatives, take part in environmental activities and generate engagement and discussion around the sustainability of our planet.
Two of our ecologists stumbled across evidence of beavers whilst carrying out a PEA of a site near the River Stour, in Kent. And we expect it won’t be the last time…
Click here for the full story.
It was smiles all round in Manchester at the Association of Noise Consultants Awards ceremony when it was revealed that we had won not one, but both categories which we had been shortlisted for.
Read more here and see 2016 for more details on the research.
We joined forces with Temple to take on the JLL Property Triathlon for the second year running.
The results were a definite cause for celebration. Our men’s team came a brilliant 23rd of 178 teams in the men’s relay (in the full afternoon summer sun!) and the women claimed an incredible first place in their relay, beating the other teams by a clear 5 minutes!
The Ecology Consultancy Leadership Team was expanded to include our Associate Directors, helping to build resilience, further define roles and responsibilities, and take the company forward.
CIRIA, in conjunction with The Ecology Consultancy’s founder John Newton, launched a mobile app to provide those working in construction and the built environment with easy access to guidance on legislation and good practice to consider when working with wildlife on site.
Read more and download the app.
Working from the Wakefield office, we delivered over 6000 surveys for HS2 Phase 2b since July 2017. Our ecology team is operating as part of the Mott Macdonald WSP Joint Venture consortium, alongside Temple, delivering the Hybrid Bill and its associated protected species and habitat surveys for the western leg of the route.
We are the technical specialists across the Crewe to Manchester leg for reptiles, birds, water vole, otter and Habitat Regulations Assessment as well as holding the role of overall ecology technical specialist for the consortium.
Our School Ecology Workshop initiative was rewarded by being Highly Commended in the 2018 CIEEM Awards Knowledge Sharing category.
Read more here and see 2017 for details on the initiative.
The Ecology Consultancy supported Berkeley Homes in developing their Nine Concepts guide to inform their approach to net biodiversity gain – enabling them to commit to net biodiversity gain on all future developments. Read the full case study here.
The project won the Client Award at the 2018 CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Challenge.
The Lewes, Norwich and Lichfield offices relocate to new premises.
Temple Group Management deliver on expansion plans with the acquisition of Arbeco, an arboricultural consultancy, providing ecology, tree and habitat services.
Our experts began work on the M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway upgrade with Balfour Beatty Vinci Joint Venture, on behalf of Highways England.
Bat surveys have involved the innovative use of thermal imaging techniques to improve the effectiveness of bat emergence and re-entry surveys on bridges along the route. Find out more about our thermal imaging work here.
We will be continuing to provide ecology surveys and advice on the M4 project throughout 2020.
Our ecologists were commissioned by Trium to begin baseline surveys for the MSG Sphere entertainment venue, located within the Olympic Park, which included black redstart and bat surveys, as well as light spillage, Net Gain and Phase 1 assessments. At the same time, we completed a BREEAM for the new University College London buildings, also located within the Olympic Park.
Refer to 2016 and 2011 for more updates on work we have carried out around the Olympics.
In Spring 2016, the results of a study led by Principal Ecologist Charlie Dwight, proved that it is not necessary to over-winter water voles in captivity.
As a result, Natural England have now changed their policy for southern England. This approach has also proved cost effective, saving one client £40K and has helped develop strong relationships with NE.
Our School Ecology Workshops (SEW) initiative is designed to help the construction industry engage with local communities and support their corporate social responsibility activities. Our partnerships and involvement with schools have continued to evolve ever since.
Read more about our SEW activities here.
We were the proud sponsors of the Promising Professional Award, granted to those who have demonstrated above-average competence and commitment to their professional development.
We have continued to sponsor this annual event, see 2019.
‘The Orchard’, our industry-leading employee development, up-skilling and mentoring programme equips employees with the technical and consultancy skills that they need to ensure they have a fulfilling, long-term career in line with their strengths and ambitions.
The research was initiated to investigate whether it was possible to use high frequency acoustics to deter woodland bats, in particular Bechstein’s bat, from sensitive zones of the railway corridor, in order to prevent potential collision with trains.
The project is a collaboration with sister company Temple Group, BSG Ecology, The University of Bristol as well as HS2 Ltd.
The Ecology Consultancy is honoured to have acted as projects ecologists for many years working closely with DP World London Gateway to achieve positive results for wildlife.
This short film provides insight into how the construction of two intertidal mudflats has compensated for the potential loss of habitat predicted to occur during the development of DP World London Gateway Port.
Read more here or see 2013 to discover more about our work at London Gateway.
With the aim of expanding our regional operations, we established a presence in Wakefield, led by Associate Director Dr Sarah Cox, chartered ecologist and environmentalist.
This new office represented the next stage in our plans to provide comprehensive coverage for projects wherever they may be situated in the UK.
The launch of the new office in Staffordshire, headed up by Principal Ecologist David Coote, expertly positioned the company to link with operations in our Norfolk and London offices and provide ecology services across the entire region.
The Midlands was set to see plenty of opportunity for development with the announcement in 2015 of the government’s long-term economic plan for the area.
The Leadership Team harnesses the experience and skills of four top level senior staff who had worked for The Ecology Consultancy for a number of years: Giles Coe, Jane Kendall, Jon Riley and Tom McArthur.
All had been instrumental in shaping its success and would henceforth have responsibility for continuing to drive forward the organisation’s 2020 Strategy and Growth plans.
John was responsible for the growth and management of the company since its establishment in 1999. His role and responsibilities were transferred to the Leadership Team to drive the company forward, with John remaining as a Strategic Advisor until March 2017.
As the successful BREEAM projects for Lend Lease and The International Quarter came to a close, we were commissioned by the Landscape Group with the London Legacy Development Corporation to begin the post-Olympic biodiversity monitoring surveys for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the results of which have been used to inform the park’s Biodiversity Action Plan 2014-2019 and its future management.
See 2011 to find out about the ecological services we provided ahead of the Olympics.
Our services were expanded to include high-quality arboricultural services, surveys and assessments for every stage of the development process.
Our arboricultural consultants, led at the time by Senior Arboricultural Consultant Mark Cannon, work closely with our team of ecologists to provide bespoke strategies for individual developments to meet and exceed project requirements.
The Norfolk team continued their work on this project by providing an entire season of Ecological Clerk of Works ahead of the construction of the onshore elements of the wind farm.
Read the full case study here or see 2012 & 2013 for more insight into the work we have done on this project.
As part of the East London Line project, our ecologists began the implementation of a series of biodiversity enhancement measures in 2014, including the sowing of trackside verges with wildflower seeds, and the installation of insect walls at various trackside sites between Dalston Junction and Shoreditch.
Working for the London Borough of Southwark we carried out a borough-wide ecological survey of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) to inform their Local Plan, offering a basis for enhancements to contribute to London’s biodiversity targets, as well as identifying habitat linkages between sites to promote a more strategic approach to nature conservation within the borough.
See the full case study here.
In 2012, we began working with Bovis Homes on a scheme for 1050 new homes, a new school and community facilities to be built on an area of countryside in Bexhill.
Our ecologists began gathering a robust picture of the wildlife present on the 57ha site and, by 2014, had completed overwintering bird surveys, a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, surveys for great crested newt, breeding birds, bats, barn owl, reptiles, dormice, arable plants, hedgerows and woodland. An Ecological Constraints and Opportunity Plan and a Green Infrastructure Strategy were also produced.
We are continuing to deliver ecological services on this project to this day.
In 2014 we launched the Professional Ecology Series a programme of specialist courses delivered by professional ecologists with long-standing experience of working in consultancy.
In 2014 the Newhall neighbourhood development, a significant urban extension to the town of Harlow in Essex, was delivered to time thanks to our involvement in the project.
The site was predominantly farmland, but held several protected species which required specialist surveys and licence applications prior to development. We worked closely with Newhall Projects Ltd to provide specialist ecological input into plans and work over a period of several years.
In 2013, as part of the Mitigation, Compensation and Monitoring agreement for development, the construction of compensatory mudflats began opposite the London Gateway site, in Kent. We worked with the DP World London Gateway Environment Team to establish an ecological baseline and to carry out mitigation in advance of the construction works.
Read more here or go to 2017 to find out how we have worked closely with the client to achieve positive results for wildlife on this site.
After our work on the HS2 Phase 1 Appraisal of Sustainability in 2010, The Ecology Consultancy was contracted in 2012 to complete the ecological assessment for the Environmental Statement, which would later inform the HS2 Hybrid Bill. 2013 saw us double in size as we oversaw many thousands of field surveys, started assessing the impacts on a very sensitive population of rare bats, and completed the detailed ecological impact assessment of a 90km section of the route.
To begin moving away from paper-based mapping to digital mobile solutions, all surveys were henceforth carried out and digital data collected with hand-held mobile devices and accurate GPS units. This was a significant development allowing for our field work to be more efficient and the data more accurate.
After 15 years of working with us on multiple high-profile projects including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and High Speed 2, Temple Group acquired The Ecology Consultancy.
“The fit was perfect – we have worked together for many years, are both headquartered in London and both firms have grown extremely well recently. Temple brings project management skills and a specialist capability in environmental impact assessment and town planning, while we will strengthen biodiversity in their sustainability offering.” – John Newton.
Continuing the work we started in 2010 for the onshore aspects of the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm, a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) involving the installation of 56 wind turbines off the Suffolk coast, with the capacity to generate up to 353 megawatts (MW) of energy.
Beyond Green commissioned The Ecology Consultancy to act as the projects ecologists for the 3,520-home sustainable mixed-use development in Norfolk. Our team worked closely with Beyond Green to turn ecology into a positive boost for what was at the time said to be “the most authentically sustainable new development ever built in the UK”.
The Ecology Consultancy and sister company, the Green Infrastructure Consultancy, were commissioned to carry out Green Infrastructure Audits and Feasibility Studies for three London Business Improvement Districts (BIDs): Better Bankside, Team London Bridge and Hammersmith.
The second edition of ‘Working with wildlife: guidance for the construction industry’ was issued by CIRIA. Upon publication, this edition was dedicated to the memory of Barry Nicholson.
You can acquire a copy of the guidance here.
We carried out ecological impact assessments and prepared mitigation strategies for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
Our work included a mitigation and restoration strategy for rare acid grassland habitat affected by the equestrian event at Greenwich Park, and mapping and assessment of important habitats affected by the 29-mile cycling event though Surrey, including the internationally important chalk grassland habitat at Box Hill.
Our Sussex office team was commissioned to provide ecological and green infrastructure appraisals of 13 Strategic Development Areas identified for housing allocation across the district of Wealden. The extensive nature of the work resulted in a 1500-page report divided into 20 chapters that was made publicly available on the council website.
2010 is the year we embarked on our long journey working on the nationally significant High Speed Two (HS2) rail project aiming to connect London with the West Midlands.
The Ecology Consultancy carried out a major assessment of proposed routes, which later became known as HS2’s ‘Appraisal of Sustainability’. We also prepared a scoping report for a Habitat Regulations Assessment of the preferred route option.
As the Lewes team began to grow, they fled the “hustle and bustle” of the city (town) and upped sticks to an old granary barn on a country lane nearby.
The Ecology Consultancy was commissioned by Environ to survey the development of Runnymede from university campus to mixed development site.
This project was particularly interesting for our bat experts, as the site supported potential habitat for the rare annex 2 species Bechstein’s and barbastelles.
Working alongside the Surrey Wildlife Trust, the local Badger Group and the National Trust, we conducted Phase 1 surveys, followed by extended badger, bat, reptile and dormouse surveys and a full tree assessment. Bat roost compensation, such as the bat loft featured above, was recommended and we were pleased to find that a small Victorian building on site, The Mews, was to be retained, as it housed a maternity pipistrelle roost.
Our involvement in this project continued over the years, applying for licenses for bat and badger mitigation and contributing to the Environmental Impact Assessment
With the expanding Norfolk team having outgrown the old offices, they moved to Lodge Farm Barns, a newly converted complex beside a series of lakes in Bawburgh.
The survey covered about 80km of the Lea, the largest tributary of the Thames in London and was carried out for the Lea Valley Regional Park to inform their 10-year biodiversity action plan and establish management priorities for the river.
Report production was a massive exercise in data collation, mapping and illustration but the output was magnificent – Otters, water vole, grass snake, roosting bats and rare plants were among the special wildlife we recorded.
A GIS and Systems Manager was appointed to handle the considerable amount of data generated by our survey work.
This marked the beginning of our extensive portfolio of habitat mapping services delivered to a range of clients, from multidisciplinary engineering companies, developers and architects, to local authority planning departments, ecology and landscape consultants, and statutory agencies.
Our GIS specialists work closely with our professional ecology team to provide highly accurate geospatial support and mapping services.
We worked on the Natural Estate guidance publication, prepared to provide principles, practical advice and case studies of tried and tested schemes to encourage a more wildlife rich landscape around social housing. The guidance was commissioned by English Nature on behalf of Neighbourhoods Green with an intended audience of social landlords and community projects.
We have continued to apply our expertise and experience to produce guidance to support developers to enhance the landscapes on housing projects. See The Nine Concepts guide in 2018.
The Ecology Consultancy worked alongside contractors Costain and, latterly, Amey Infrastructure Services to achieve the re-opening of the disused rail line, construction of new track, stations and Signalling and Telecoms.
We undertook a scoping survey of 17 miles of track and trackside habitat, advising on potential constraints from reptiles, badgers, bats and otters, completing the translocation of reptiles from a number of station sites, mapping and advising on the control of invasive Japanese Knotweed, and providing watching brief and supervision for fencing installation, habitat management and implementation of appropriate mitigation measures.
We invested in Personal Track Safety (PTS) training for staff for this, which also enabled us to continue working on railside projects for other clients.
The London team only stayed 18 months at Porden House – being linked to the infamous ‘Fridge’ night club, the letting arrangements were less than secure – before moving into a relatively spacious office in the historic Bon Marche Centre, opposite Brixton tube.
Once Kent’s largest coalfield, Betteshanger Colliery, closed in he 1980’s leaving behind 120ha of high-density industrial brownfield land contaminated by more than 60 years of coal mining and landfill use.
On behalf of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Peter Brett Associates and Fitzpatrick appointed Ecology Consultancy to provide the ecology services for the regeneration of Betteshanger, aiming to bring environmental, ecological, social, leisure and an economic improvement to the site.
In collaboration with CIRIA, John Newton and Barry Nicholson launched the first edition of the Working with Wildlife resource and training pack.
The aim was to offer information and guidance to a wide range of people involved with the construction industry helping them to stay within the law relating to wildlife, as well as understanding and implementing good practice in protecting wildlife on development and construction projects.
The Working with Wildlife guidance has undergone exciting advances over the years, see 2004 and 2019 to find out more.
Crowhurst Corner Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) lies on the northern edge of Brighton’s urban fringe and is a Local Wildlife Site with public access. Our experts were appointed to carry out extensive habitat creation and the implementation of a long-term management plan.
We worked closely with Brighton and Hove County Council and Linkwood until official handover in 2011 and continued to have piecemeal involvement in the form of BREEAM assessments and ad-hoc advice until 2014.
The Norwich office (or should we say spare bedroom?) was established, in the home of co-director Barry Nicholson, employing just one other ecologist.
After years of offering ecological input for development, John Newton saw the potential for ecological consultancy. Seizing the opportunity, he founded Ecology Consultancy Ltd in 1999, operating from his (rather small) spare room. He soon invited his colleague from his days at the London Wildlife Trust, Barry Nicholson, to join as a Co-Director.
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