When do I need a NI Biodiversity Checklist Assessment?
NIEA and the Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in Northern Ireland recommend that a NI Biodiversity Checklist accompany all planning applications. They were designed as a step-by-step guide for applicants and their agents to help identify when ecological surveys and assessments are required and what these might be. The Checklist and NIEA advice relating to it can be found here.
Sections 1 and 2 of the Checklist have been designed to be completed by non-ecologists. However, many non-ecologists will struggle to complete these sections with any certainty.
If it can be demonstrated through the NI Biodiversity Checklist that the works are unlikely to cause negative ecological effects no ecological surveys or assessments are required. In this case, the submission of this checklist can significantly speed up the planning process and avoid unnecessary costs.
Where the applicant or their agent are unsure how to complete sections 1 and 2 NIEA recommend commissioning an ecologist.
If all answers are ‘NO’, and NIEA agree with that assessment, no further surveys, assessments or mitigation will be required.
Where an answer of ‘YES’ has been provided in Sections 1 or 2, or the LPA or NIEA believe that the answer is ‘YES’, an ecologist will need to complete sections 3 and 4. Often this will mean that a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey will be needed. In this case, if ecological surveys or assessments are completed, a NI Biodiversity Checklist is not required as all the information supplied in the checklist is included within standard ecological survey reporting formats, avoiding the cost (£200) for completion of a NI Biodiversity Checklist
Cost: From £200*
How long will it take?
NI Biodiversity Checklists can be completed relatively quickly if there is no need to conduct further surveys or assessments. Usually, these could be completed the same day as our appointment.
If an answer of ‘YES’ has been given in the Checklist further ecological surveys, assessments and mitigation may be required. These should be submitted with the Checklist. The amount of time required to conduct these surveys and assessments will depend upon what surveys are required. NIEA states that where potential impacts have been identified by an answer of ‘YES’ the minimum level of survey/assessment for most sites is likely to be a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. Single species/habitat surveys may be sufficient if the NI Biodiversity Checklist Assessment has identified potential impacts upon a single species/habitat.
*NOTE: The costs quoted above may vary for larger or more complex sites or for greater travelling distances. All quoted figures are exclusive of and are subject to VAT.