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Understanding ecological impact assessments

Understanding Ecological Impact Assessments

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a comprehensive process designed to evaluate the potential ecological impacts of a project. This assessment is critical for ensuring that developments adhere to environmental legislation and planning policies, considering the habitats, species, and ecosystems potentially affected by the project.

When is an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) Required?

EcIAs are generally required for non-Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) projects, such as small-scale residential or industrial developments, road construction, and campsites that don’t exceed certain thresholds.

Ecological Impact Assessments are vital in aligning development projects with environmental sustainability. These assessments ensure we responsibly plan and manage works by thoroughly evaluating the potential ecological consequences mitigating harm to ecosystems and biodiversity. It’s not just about compliance; it’s about stewardship of our natural world for future generations.”

Alex Blundell, Principal Ecologist

The Ecological Impact Assessment Process

The EcIA process involves several steps:

Scoping and Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA): This initial stage includes a Phase 1 habitat survey and desk study, identifying ecological features of interest and establishing a baseline for the site.

Value Assessment: Following the PEA, further detailed surveys (Phase 2) may be required to fully understand the site’s ecological value, such as botanical surveys or studies of specific animal species.

Impact Assessment: After completing all surveys, the impacts on protected habitats and species are assessed (and any mitigation, compensation or enhancements considered.

Mitigation, Compensation, and Enhancement: This step involves developing measures to avoid, mitigate, or compensate for identified impacts, often in consultation with the client and project team.

Reporting: The results, assessments, and recommended mitigation measures are compiled into a detailed EcIA report suitable for submission with a planning application.

Licensing: If European protected species are impacted, you may need a license from an authority like Natural England.

The Cost of Ecological Impact Assessments

The cost of an EcIA varies depending on the project’s scale and the ecological features involved. Developers must commission an ecologist early to minimise delays and costs. Ecologists work closely with the design team and local authorities to ensure compliance with relevant laws and policies.

Ecological data from surveys is typically valid for up to two years, but project lead times can affect when specific surveys should be conducted. For instance, surveys for certain species can only be done during specific times of the year.

A Biodiversity Impact Assessment, often required alongside an EcIA, focuses on habitat impacts and aims to achieve a net gain in biodiversity. This process involves calculating biodiversity losses and gains using a Biodiversity Metric.

Integrating Your Ecologist for Project Success

For successful EcIA implementation, integrating the ecologist into the design team and keeping them informed throughout the planning process is crucial. This integration allows for identifying opportunities to incorporate wildlife enhancements into the project, ensuring that the combined effects of all projects in an area do not adversely impact critical ecological features.

Join us in building a sustainable future. Reach out today to explore how our Ecology Services can elevate your project’s environmental commitment.

Contact Ecology Services Division

Explore how RSSI’s Ecology Services can guide your project towards environmental compliance and sustainability. Connect with Alex Blundell, our Principal Ecologist, for an insightful discussion on how we can support your environmental goals. Call us at 0330 113 0004 or ecology@rssinfrastructure.com to start your journey towards ecological success.

 

About Us

RSS Infrastructure (RSSI), based in Birmingham, Cwmbran, and Doncaster, provides infrastructure services for the rail, civil, and utilities sectors. They serve clients like Network Rail, WMCA, HS2 and Tier 1 & 2 contractors. Their services include Arboriculture, Civils and Construction, Geofencing, Industrial Rope Access (IRATA), Magnetic Track Safety, Rail Operations including Possession Management and P/Way, Rail Welding, Signalling, and Track Warning Services.

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