Ecology Surveys of Land in Cradley, Herefordshire, West Midlands

great crested newt legislation  

In 2014 Udall-Martin Associates Ltd. (specialist ecological consultancy) carried out a range of ecology surveys of an area of land in Cradley, Herefordshire, where a residential development is proposed. The proposed development site comprises farmland including large cattle grazed fields, with mature hedgerows and scattered ash and oak trees on the site boundaries. The site is situated on the outskirts of the village set within the Herefordshire countryside, with gorse scrub, woodland, mature orchards and agricultural fields in the close vicinity.

Initially, an ecological assessment/appraisal was carried out comprising an Extended Phase-1 habitat survey of the proposed development site and a desk study involving consultation with the Herefordshire Biological Records Centre. At the request of the client the full ecology survey reports are to be completed in 2015.  The initial Extended Phase-1 habitat survey provides early warning of the potential ecological issues that need to be considered. This helps inform decision-making regarding development programme and design. This survey will determine which Phase-2 protected species surveys will be required, if any. For the Cradley project further Phase-2 protected species surveys comprised great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) surveys of ponds within 500m of the site and bat activity surveys, hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) surveys and reptile surveys of the proposed development site and immediate vicinity.

A large sized population of great crested newts was found in the ponds surveyed during the great crested newt surveys carried out between mid-March and mid-June. It is likely the great crested newts will use the site for foraging, shelter and cover, with the hedgerows also providing commuting and dispersal routes between ponds.

The bat surveys revealed the hedgerows were used as commuting routes and foraging habitat by bats where continuous bat activity was recorded during the bat surveys carried out between April and October. Bat species recorded were common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), soprano pipistrelle bat (P. pygmaeus), myotis bat species, and most notably by rarer species, i.e. barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus) and lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). Also, mature trees on the site contained features providing potential bat roosting habitat.

Adders (Vipera berus) and grass snake (Natrix natrix) are known to occur locally. As snakes have large home ranges it is possible snakes may use the hedgerow corridors on the site occasionally for commuting and dispersal. To avoid/minimise adverse impacts to great crested newts and foraging and commuting bats, ecological mitigation will be required. Great crested newt is a European Protected Species (EPS) and therefore a EPS mitigation licence will be required for the development works. A method statement will be produced for the licence detailing the measures to avoid/minimising the risk of harming/killing individual great crested newts and to provide compensation for the loss/damage of great crested newt terrestrial habitat.

For great crested newts the proposed development site will be fenced off with appropriate amphibian fencing, newts will be trapped using pitfall traps and translocated to a suitable receptor site in the close vicinity. The mitigation for great crested newts will also provide measures to minimise the chances of harming any transient/commuting grass snakes and adders. Mitigation for bats will involve the retention of important hedgerows and trees.

Habitat creation and faunal species enhancements will be recommended for the proposed development site to provide biodiversity benefits for the project. These will include species-rich hedgerow planting, wildflower grassland creation and wildlife pond creation, as well as bat roosting boxes and bird nesting boxes throughout the site.

Work conducted for a private individual in 2014.

Do you require an ecological survey?

If you require ecological surveys, including Extended Phase-1 habitat survey and protected species surveys, please contact Udall-Martin Associates for advice and quotations (T: 01684 540695; M: 07968 030448; M: 07954 160468).

Udall-Martin Associates work throughout the UK and extensively in the West Midlands (Birmingham, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire), East Midlands (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Rutland), South West (Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset and Devon), South East (Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire) and throughout Wales.