When do I need an ecological assessment?
Ecological assessments are required for many different types of project, from planning applications to research and conservation management. These surveys are often required to accompany planning applications as a result of a NI Biodiversity Checklist assessment.
The type of project and the specific site conditions will ultimately determine the type of assessments that are required, the methods used and the time involved.
The process: How long will it take?
The ecological survey and assessment process is iterative, i.e. each stage informs the next. For many projects, this will involve conducting a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or a NI Biodiversity Checklist Assessment, while for others more detailed assessments such as an Ecological Impact Assessment or a Habitats Regulations Assessment will be required. These assessments will identify where there is a need for further (Phase 2) more detailed surveys for particular species or habitats and if any Mitigation measures are required. This is an important point to remember as the need for further surveys, assessments and/or mitigation can not only add to the overall costs but can also result in delays, particularly where surveys or mitigation for certain species or habitats are limited to particular times of the year.
The simplest types of assessments, i.e. a PEA or a NI Biodiversity Checklist Assessment, can be completed within approximately 4 weeks from appointment if these do not identify the need for further surveys or assessments. However, this may vary at different times of the year depending upon how busy we are, how big the site is and the types and range of habitats and species on site.
The more detailed assessments, such as Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRAs) may take slightly longer, again depending on the site size and ecological complexity.