When do I need ecological surveys?
Ecological surveys and monitoring activities are required for many different types of projects, 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.
Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) survey specifications are available here.
The type of project and the specific site conditions will ultimately determine the type of surveys that are required. They will also dictate the methods used and the time involved. Many ecological surveys need to be conducted at specific times of the year. This reflects the seasonal variation in the activity of target species or the composition of target habitats.
How long will the process take?
The ecological survey and assessment process is iterative, i.e. each stage informs the next. For many projects, the first step is to conduct a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. This will identify if there is a need for further (Phase 2) surveys for particular species or habitats. This is an important point to remember as the need for further surveys can add to the costs and result in delays. This is particularly true where surveys for certain species or habitats are limited to particular times of the year.
If a PEA or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey is all that is required (i.e. if these do not identify the need for further surveys) 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 and species on site.
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