For development sites that have wildlife interest, Local Planning Authorities often apply a range of pre-commencement or pre-operation ecology planning conditions.
Whilst pre-commencement planning conditions should not come as a surprise to applicants (see our related article, ‘check your pre commencement conditions’), wording and requirements are very variable from authority to authority. We’ve therefore set out a quick guide below to typical ecology related planning conditions:
Landscape and Ecology Management Plan (or LEMP)
This is the most commonly used term for a document that is prepared to secure the long-term management of development sites in accordance with required mitigation/ compensation/ enhancement measures. The LEMP will detail management objectives for habitats present, both retained and created, and will include details for ongoing management and monitoring prescriptions as required. LEMPs will often include an ‘Ecological Constraints and Parameters Plan’ which will demonstrate that appropriate ecological features are integrated into the development.
Different authorities refer to this type of document in different ways, and it may also be referred to as a Biodiversity Enhancement Plan, a Wildlife Protection and Enhancement Scheme or an Ecological Constraints and Mitigation Plan.
Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP)
CEMPs are normally produced by the construction company and detail a range of construction phase measures that will be put into place to prevent/deal with pollution incidents, dust/noise control, etc. Most CEMPs include measures to manage risks to biodiversity on-site during construction and our ecology team typically work with the main author of the CEMP to provide input into the ecological elements of the document.
Other terms of reference for this type of document include CEMP-B or Ecological Construction Method Statement.
Precautionary Method of Working
The purpose of the Precautionary Method of Working (PMW) is to specify precautionary measures to be adopted during construction. The PMWs are often required by planning authorities to ensure that specific legally protected species potentially present in/near to the site will not be adversely affected by development activities.
A similar document is an Ecology Working Method Statement or Wildlife Working Method Statement.
Detailed proposals for incorporation of habitat and wildlife measures, incl. bat and bird boxes
This detail is often requested when specifications are made in ecology reporting to provision of bird and bat boxes. The information is commonly set out on the approved layout or development parameter plan for the site and is often incorporated into preparation of a LEMP, Ecological Mitigation Plan or similar.
Pre-commencement reptile survey (or reptile translocation)
It is best practice to fully consider presence of protected species at the planning application stage, however as a UK protected species, reptile surveys are occasionally made the subject of a planning condition. Whilst this is occasionally preferred by applicants we generally recommend that surveys for reptiles are undertaken pre-submission – this is because should the surveys identify a significant population of reptiles that cannot be accommodated on-site, a reptile translocation exercise may be required. Reptile translocation carries timing and cost implications that our clients typically prefer to understand at an earlier stage.
Pre-commencement badger survey
Badgers are a highly mobile species and are known to excavate new setts in relatively short periods of time. If you have found evidence of badger activity at your site, the planning authority will often require that a repeat or update badger survey is undertaken relatively soon prior to commencement of works to check for changes in activity. This is typically a simple walkover survey.
It is typically possible to undertake all of the above tasks to inform and accompany planning applications. Whilst this front-loads the cost, this can significantly reduce delays for commencement on site by reducing the number of pre-commencement ecology planning conditions.
There is no ’one size fits all’ so if you are in any doubt, please do speak with a member of our ecology team who will be pleased to advise. Contact us on 0117 9230455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org