Reptile Surveys

Reptile Surveys

Reptile surveys are required for a number of reasons. You may have been asked by a local planning authority, architect or county ecologist. The most common being to support a planning permission application.

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REPTILE SURVEYS AND HERPETOLOGY EXPERTS.

Our herpetology experts hold over 10 years’ experience in designing and implementing nesting bird surveys and enhancement strategies with 100% success for our clients.

No matter what the species, all UK reptiles are protected by law, under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), meaning it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure and sell and wild British reptile.

If a habitat, such as a hedgerow, heathland, or waterway shows potential for reptiles on a development site, our fully licensed ecologists will be able to advise on the best reptile survey solutions.

So, whether you are looking for domestic reptile surveys to support a planning application or you’re a development company requiring full ecological consultancy and breeding bird services, we are here to help.

our guide to reptile surveys
   
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DID YOU KNOW?

  • There are 6 native reptile species in the UK

  • The UK has 3 snake & 3 Lizard species

  • The Slow worm is actually a legless lizard

  • Unlike most other reptiles, Adders and Common lizards give birth to live young

REPTILE SURVEYS CALENDAR

Habitat Assessments

Presence Reptile Surveys

Reptile Surveys Key

bat roost assessments

Habitat Assessments

From just £348

Preliminary habitat assessments or scoping reptile surveys are the initial phases of any reptile survey process. An experienced member of our team will undertake an initial site visit during daylight hours. Unlike presence reptil surveys, Habitat assessments can be undertaken all year round.

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bat surveys

Presence Reptile Surveys

From just £498

Should evidence or potential for reptiles be identified via the preliminary habitat assessment, further reptile survey effort may be required, commonly known as presence reptile surveys also known as activity surveys. Activity reptile surveys are undertaken between March & September.

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bat mitigation

Reptile Mitigation & Strategy 

Should evidence show that reptiles are identified via presence reptile surveys, then a final step of reptile mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required. Working with your ecology consultant you will design a strategy that may involve applying to Natural England for a licence.

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Chase Ecology is an independent specialist ecology consultancy for both domestic and commercial clients across a range of sectors throughout the UK. Over the years, we have build up fantastic relationships with local planning authorities for a fast and efficient process, meaning we’re always happy to consult with your local county ecologist or planning officer and statutory agencies for a quick and successful planning application. Our speedy, honest, reliable, and common sense approach means we’ve become of the UK’s leading protected species experts. Our personal approach means we are here to help with any advice with a simple phone call.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO REPTILE SURVEYS

So, you have put in your planning application or you’re removing a pond or hedgerow. The local planning authority or your tree surgeon has stated reptile surveys are required. You probably have a few questions.

All native British reptiles are protected by law, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). No matter what the species! The regulation means that it is an offense to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct reptiles.

To help you understand why you’ve been asked to undertake reptile surveys and why they are important, we’ve put together what is probably the most comprehensive guide to reptile surveys available online. We hope this guide answers everything there is to know about British reptile surveys.

THE REPTILE SURVEYS PROCESS

The most common question we get asked about reptile surveys is what is the process, What do we need to do? and when can those steps be taken? Below we’ve put together a short highlight, which we expand on later in the guide, on the steps that potentially need to be taken during the reptile surveys process.

Preliminary habitat assessments involve an initial inspection of a habitat to identify the potential for reptiles and other species.

As well as an assessment of the building and surrounding habitat to support reptile, a phase 1 reptile survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known reptile populations, previous mitigation sites, and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

If a habitat, such as a hedgerow, pond, grass meadow, or heathland shows potential for reptiles on a development site, our fully licensed herpetologists will survey for population and reptile species.

Reptile surveys will need to be undertaken between March and September.

Should evidence show that reptiles are identified via presence surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required.

The majority of the time we are able to work under reasonable avoidance measures when it comes to reptile surveys. This may mean altering dates to when reptiles are no longer active for example. However, from time to time mitigation may be required.

WHY DO I NEED A REPTILE SURVEY?

Well, it’s not uncommon especially if you are demolishing a building, breaking ground or your development is close to a forest or heathland.

All UK reptile species are protected by law. Six native species of reptile can be found in Britain. Reptile species including the common lizard, grass snake, slow worm, and adders are commonly found, whereby, Smooth snakes and sand lizards are found mainly along the Dorset & Hampshire coasts.

If a habitat shows potential for reptiles on a development site, our fully licensed ecology consultants will be able to advise on the best survey solutions.

At this point, we’d like to give you some good news. Reptiles almost never stop your development.

But what is the reptile survey and mitigation process? Firstly, the need for reptile surveys will generally be identified at the time of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal also know as a Habitat Walkover or Phase 1 Survey.

If the potential for reptiles is shown, then the presence of reptile surveys may need to be completed. These reptile surveys need to show whether any reptile species are present in the area, what populations are like, and how they use the site.

If protected species are detected, then a mitigation plan is designed to show how you’ll avoid, reduce, or manage any negative effects on them. Working with your ecologist you need to decide which methods are right for the project you’re working on.

A mitigation licence from Natural England is required. Once received the moving of reptiles to a new home can then take place.

WILL I NEED TO CARRY OUT A REPTILE SURVEY?

Most likely. Especially if your development is within 500m of a forest, grass meadow, heathland, or water source.

If your plans are to carry out development works which could disrupt or harm any reptiles or their habitats. If your local planning authority has asked for an ecology reptile survey then you will need to carry out a protected species survey.

Typically demolition of a building, barn conversions, house extensions, and change of land use all require reptile surveys and potential mitigation.

DECIDING IF YOU NEED REPTILE SURVEYS

Reptile and other protected species can be affected by lots of construction work including:

  • demolition of buildings
  • extensions that affect land usage
  • wind turbines
  • barn conversions
  • removal of trees, hedgerows, or heathland
  • removal or change of land use, such as meadow to grazing
  • building or maintenance of roads

You’re more likely to need Reptile surveys if the land has favourable features such as:

  • a watercourse or body within 500 meters
  • has damp patches or bogs such as field soakaways
  • is close to woodland or water
  • is close to heathland
  • has hedgerows and trees
  • has unmanaged grass
  • has moss available

You’re likely to need a Reptile survey for land-use change if it:

  • is in ancient woodland
  • is large with good growth
  • has damp mossy areas
  • has unmanaged grass
  • has hedgerows or trees
  • has heathland
  • is near an allotment
  • is close to heather moors or heathland
  • is close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Local nature reserve.

I THINK WE NEED REPTILE SURVEYS

If your planning or development has any of the above bullet points ticked then, YES! you need reptile surveys.

So what actually happens during the reptile survey process?

Well, it’s fairly simple. Reptiles will almost never stop your development.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A REPTILE SURVEY

So, now you’ve established why you need a survey, you maybe be wondering what happens during the Reptile survey process.

The Reptile survey process is simple. It generally starts with a preliminary habitat assessment and if evidence or potential of Reptiles, we can determine the types of survey that would suit the development best for Phase 2. These may include:

  • Habitat suitability index (HSI) assessments
  • Presence/absence surveys involving reptile matting, bucket traps, and refuge search’s

However, if your site holds a confirmed Reptile population then the third phase of mitigation and licensing may be required.

If your local planning authority has asked for a reptile survey then you will need to contact a licensed ecologist.

Typically, after a phone or email consultation, the ecologist will then require a visit to your site to undertake a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment.

PRELIMINARY HABITAT ASSESSMENTS

For most planning permission applications or development projects involving newts or other protected, it is appropriate to start with a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment also known as a Walkover Survey.

Preliminary habitat assessments involve an initial inspection of a habitat to identify the potential for reptiles and other protected species.

As well as an assessment of the building and surrounding habitat to support reptiles, a phase 1 reptile survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known reptile populations, previous mitigation sites and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

If the habitat itself does not show evidence or potential for reptiles then this information can sometimes be enough to provide an assessment of whether they are likely to be present on-site and whether they are likely to be impacted upon by the development.

After the data is collected your ecologist will compile a detailed report outlining any further steps, if any, that may be required.

PRESENCE REPTILE SURVEYS

Should evidence or potential for Reptiles be identified then further reptile survey effort may be required. This next stage is known as presence or population surveys.

Unlike preliminary habitat assessments, which can be carried out year-round, presence reptile surveys will need to be undertaken between March and September.

The weather conditions must warm and dry.

MITIGATION, COMPENSATION, AND STRATEGY FOR REPTILES

Should evidence show that reptiles are identified via presence surveys, then a final step of mitigation and compensation will be required.

Working with your ecology consultant you will design a mitigation plan. This involves applying to Natural England for a protected species licence.

However, you will need planning permission to have been granted prior to applying for this licence.

For the licence to be granted, a mitigation strategy will be required that could involve timings of works, installation of mitigation strategies.

The mitigation plan will address the potential impacts on reptiles and other protected species and must avoid negative effects on reptile populations, such as small alternations to project designs or delayed work which may expose the habitat.

If this is not possible, the use of alternative mitigation measures to reduce the impacts must be implemented.

Mitigation and compensation methods can include:

  1. Changing work methods or timing to avoid breeding periods. For example, work to be complete during winter.
  2. Creating new habitats within the same or on neighbouring site
  3. Improving or creating habitats. Such as new foraging areas or pond
  4. Long term management of habitats
  5. Reptile population monitoring after the development

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A PROTECTED SPECIES LICENCE IS GRANTED?

So all the correct paperwork is in place and Natural England has granted your protect species licence. Congratulations.

But what happens next?

The ecologist, architect, construction company and yourself will decide on a date whereby work will be started. The ecology consultant will take one or both of two main steps:

  1. Implement any compensation measures for newts before works are undertaken.
  2. And/or – Be on-site to undertake ecological clerk of works measures during a soft break of any areas where any species are identified.

Once any reptiles are ‘mitigated’ into the new habitat, works can continue as normal.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE FIND REPTILES AFTER WORK HAS STARTED?

Stop all work immediately.

Continuing work is likely to be breaking the law if reptiles are found during building works.

Get in touch with your ecologist who will advise you on the next steps.

HOW MUCH DOES A REPTILE SURVEY COST?

Well, it’s hard to accurately say as it varies greatly. There are many factors to take into account.

Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessments and presence reptile surveys range from £348. Fees depend on the location of the development, and size or complexity of the site.

As of April 2019, and despite very strong opposition from ecology consultancies including ourselves, Natural England introduced hourly charges for the mitigation licence.