Protected Species Case 1
In order to implement mineral consents at a quarry in Purbeck it was necessary to take down a complex of farm buildings holding legally protected roosts of five species of bats, and destroy 2.2 ha of terrestrial habitat occupied by great crested newts.
AEcol designed mitigation and compensation strategies in support of Natural England Development Licences, including habitat creation, trapping and translocation, and long term monitoring schemes. Both applications were successful and work to allow the quarrying operation to progress was performed entirely within one season.
Protected Species Case 2
In order to implement consent for installation of a mineral washing plant at a recently permitted quarry in Hampshire is was necessary to translocate a population of the European protected species smooth snake Coronella austriaca.
AEcol in-house team designed a mitigation and compensation strategy in support of a Natural England Development Licence, including habitat creation, trapping and translocation, and a long term monitoring scheme. The application was successful and subsequently implemented by AEcol Associate Dr Chris Gleed-Owen, with a total of ten smooth snakes and 881 other reptiles moved to a prepared receptor site.
Protected Species Case 3
In order to perform essential restoration works to a Grade 2 listed 17th century Farmhouse in Somerset, it was necessary to disturb bats, including a colony of lesser horseshoe bats Rhinolophus hipposideros, listed as globally vulnerable.
The AEcol team designed a mitigation and compensation strategy in support of a Natural England Development Licence to exclude bats from the farmhouse for a period of one year whilst works took place. The AEcol strategy included specific enhancements to the roof-void of the restored house for bats, and also pioneered a design of a temporary bat-house for use by the bat colony whilst works took place.
The application was successful and post-development monitoring performed by AEcol has seen an increase in numbers of lesser horseshoe bats in the restored roof-void, including four dependent young.
In addition, following the return of the colony to the farmhouse, the temporary bat-house has been adopted as a mating-roost by an individual male lesser horseshoe bat.
Protected Species Case 4
Despite an extensive ultra-sound survey, concerns remained that bats might be roosting within mature trees proposed for felling as a consequence of mineral extraction.
AEcol in-house arboreal climbing team visited the site to perform a detailed inspection of the suspected bat-roost cavities and provide further guidance as appropriate.
Two climbers spent three hours on site, ascended each of the six trees, found all the suspected roost cavities were in fact discontinuous and entirely unsuitable for occupation by roosting bats. The trees were felled without any further delay.
Protected Species Case 5
Due to difficulties in the implementation of conditions in relation to a Natural England Development Licence in respect of common dormice Muscardinus avellanarius, AEcol were approached by a developer with a view to managing the project, which involved finger-tip searches of hibernation habitat, translocation of dormice, the enhancement of existing habitat, and the translocation of over 200 m of hedgerows.
Following a review of the mitigation/compensation scheme and the development of advance planting already performed in compensation for the loss of extant dormouse habitat, AEcol concluded that the agreed scheme would be unlikely to be suitable for colonisation by dormice for a significant period of time. Furthermore, the conditioned monitoring lacked sufficient resolution to guide the scheme to a satisfactory conclusion.
This was particularly pertinent, not only in order that the objective of the current licence be satisfactorily achieved, but as it was the intention of the developer to submit a further application for an additional dormouse licence to commence within the monitoring period of the current licence.
AEcol therefore made suggestions for additional low-cost enhancements and remedial action in relation to the planting, which was of sub-optimal form and density. Then, drawing on in-depth experience of habitat translocation, species ecology and the practicalities of earth-moving, AEcol provided practical suggestions for how best to utilise the material from translocated hedgerows in order to maximise the habitat potential at the earliest opportunity and thereby best ensure the success of the scheme within the required timescale.
Finger-tip searches were performed by the AEcol field team, resulting in the discovery of an individual dormouse hibernation nest, and contractor supervision was targeted to the most sensitive components of the scheme, allowing contractors to work to the most effective time-scale.
Finally, a monitoring scheme was designed to measure quantitative and qualitative values of both the species and the compensatory habitat, with pre-defined objectives and appropriate triggers for action within a five-year framework, the results of which would also serve to form the basis of the next dormouse application.