Ecological consultancy is environmental consulting that ensures clients manage to pass and comply with environmental regulations. Property developers and individuals building new build houses need to be granted planning permission to crack on with the building process. We have come up with a guide to what an ecological consultancy is and what services they offer as a business. Read on for more.
What is an Ecological Consultancy?
An ecological consultancy is a team which carries out research and surveys to provide clients with expert advice on ecological matters. Staff working in ecological consultancies will have specialist knowledge in the field, such as an appropriate undergraduate degree and often a master’s degree, a PhD, or a background in nature conservation as well as relevant field experience.
If you are a developer or want to build yourself a home on a plot of land currently without planning permission, you will need to employ the services of an ecological consultancy to provide the local planning authority with detailed information about the habitat and biodiversity of the land you want to build on.
The work of ecological consultancies can be limited by the planning restrictions for the project, e.g., having to stay within certain designated boundaries set out in the initial outline planning permission. Their work can also sometimes be restricted due to the resources and the budget the consultancy has available to work with.
What Services Do Ecological Consultancies Offer?
Consultancies provide specialist expertise on ecological and environmental matters to industry, government agencies (such as local planning authorities) and other organisations.
The main services offered by ecological consultancies include:
Ecological Impact Assessments – These are carried out by ecological consultancies to provide local planning authorities with detailed evaluations for projects that will most likely have a significant impact on the local environment. This makes planning authorities aware of the wider environmental implications should they decide to grant planning permission for a project.
For example, in line with the 2021 landmark 2021 Environmental Bill , authorities will now have to look out for biodiversity net gain commitments that demonstrate developers carrying out biodiversity enhancements to the land on the site that equate to a 10% net gain. The aim is to prevent building projects from causing losses in biodiversity and damaging local habitats and disrupting ecosystems.
To get a biodiversity net gain plan for a plot of land you are thinking of applying for planning permission on, you may want to take a look at the expert services offered by Biodiversity Net Gain Plan.
Habitat Management – This ensures that natural areas are managed not only in order to protect wildlife and their natural habitats, but also to protect crops and prevent them from suffering from pests and disease outbreaks
Ecological Surveys – These must be carried out early on in the planning process, and a long time before planning permission can be granted. In ecological surveys, ecological consultants can provide the local planning authority with ideas on ways the impact of the project on habitats and wildlife can be mitigated. You may discover through tree surveys in a planning application, for example, that there are planning constraints due to the trees within the boundary lines of your property or development site.
Ecological Restauration Guidance – Building projects can potentially destroy complex interdependent ecosystems and natural habitats that were present prior to the development. Restauration guidance provides suggestions on how biodiversity and ecosystems can be restored and flourish post development.
Why Do Local Planning Authorities Require an Ecological Assessment to Grant Planning Permission?
Local planning authorities have to take in account what are known as material considerations when making a decision on a planning application. And several of the material considerations that planning authorities have to take into consideration in planning applications relate to environmental and ecological issues present on the site of the project such as:
- Nature Conservation,
- The effect of the project on listed buildings and conservation areas,
Therefore, if a development is deemed by a consultancy’s ecological survey reports to have a negative impact on the natural environment and local wildlife both on and off site, it is likely that the local planning authority will choose to reject the planning permission application.
How Do You Find an Ecological Consultancy That You Can Trust?
If you are a homeowner or a developer and you are currently looking to hire the services of a reliable ecological consultancy, you can look through the CIEEM (The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) Registered Practices Directory, and type in your postcode to find one near you.
You should be aware that getting in the services of an ecological consultancy to help with your planning application will certainly not be cheap. However, the money you have spent on paying for surveys and reports for a consultancy will be a worthwhile investment if it helps you to achieve your goal of successfully getting a planning application granted by the local planning authority. It is a good idea to get 3 or more quotes from different Ecological Consultancies. But you want to employ the consultancy you feel will provide you with the best service, which may not necessarily be the cheapest option.
If you are unsure about whether you can rely on an ecological consultancy, try and see if you can have a look at the previous work it has done for customers in the past. Perhaps browse through the customer reviews online and look at what previous customers have said in their feedback on the service they received from the ecological consultancy you are interested in employing.
Ecological consultancies are essential businesses offering professional research and surveys to give you key advice on ecological matters. They will be able to tell you whether or not it is viable for you to push for planning permission on a specific site, or if it’s unrealistic it will be granted by the local planning authority given the destruction the project will cause to the natural environment or conservation area the site lies on.