Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEA)

When do I need a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal?

Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) are often required to accompany planning applications. This may be as a result of a NI Biodiversity Checklist assessment. Generally, if there is the potential for more than one type of protected species or habitat on-site Preliminary Ecological Appraisals are required.

Cost: From £900*

What is a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal anyway?

Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) are sometimes called Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, a walkover survey or a baseline survey. These are all terms used to describe the same thing. The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) produced Guidelines (available here) in 2013 to standardise how these are conducted. Any PEA submitted to the Council or NIEA will have to meet these standards.

To comply with the CIEEM Guidelines a PEA must include:

  • A desk study including searches for notable/protected sites along with biodiversity data obtained from data centres and conservation groups to identify existing species or habitats on-site or in the surrounding area.
  • A Phase 1 Habitat Survey conducted according to the method described by JNCC (2010) (available here).
  • An extension to the Phase 1 Habitat Survey method to include a search for protected or priority habitats and species and/or invasive species.
  • Description of habitat condition
  • Target notes to include additional information on ecological features
  • Quality control details
  • Definitions of terminology

How long will it take?

The ecological survey and assessment process is iterative, i.e. each stage informs the next. For many projects, a PEA or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey is all that is required. However, many sites will also require further surveys to fully understand the impacts a development might have on ecological receptors. A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) can be conducted at any time of year, although the optimal period is generally accepted as April-September inclusive.

If a PEA or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey is all that is required the final report is usually available in approximately 4 weeks. 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 on site.

*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.