Phase 1 Habitat Surveys

When do I need a Phase 1 Habitat Survey?

These are often required to accompany planning applications as a result of an NI Biodiversity Checklist assessment. Generally, if there is the potential for more than one type of protected species or habitat on site an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey is required, rather than a survey for a single species.

What is a Phase 1 Habitat Survey anyway?

A Phase 1 Habitat Survey is an industry standard method of identifying and classifying broad habitat types. This method is described by JNCC (2010) here.

This standard method is often extended to include searches for protected and priority species along with invasive species. This extended methodology is unsurprisingly called an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and is sometimes called a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA), 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 Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey submitted to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) or NIEA will have to meet these standards.

To comply with the CIEEM Guidelines an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey 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.
  • A 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 Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey is all that is required but many sites will require further surveys to fully understand the potential impacts a development might have on ecological receptors. An extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey 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 (i.e. if these do not identify the need for further surveys) the final report is usually available in approximately 4 weeks from our appointment. 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.

Cost: From £900*

*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.