What is the ‘Wildlife Assessment Check’ tool?
Whether a development site is in a rural or urban area, it’s vital that wildlife and habitat value are considered to avoid habitat loss, fragmentation and the damaging impact of daily human activity on the land.
Development sites can put pressure on the biodiversity of a particular habitat, predominantly those threatened species that are classified as ‘protected’ and ‘priority’ species. ‘Protected’ species are protected by law, as outlined by Natural England. These include hazel dormice, water voles, and many plant species. ‘Priority’ species are classified as the most threatened and requiring conservation, of which there are currently 1,150 in the UK.
This is why Biodiversity in Planning has created the ‘Wildlife Assessment Check’ tool. The tool is free and accessible online without the need for creating an account and it will consider whether there are any protected or priority wildlife species in the area you intend to do works.
Who is it for?
Small-scale developers are often unaware that their planning applications are incomplete because they have not sought expert ecological advice as a part of their application. This can result in delays and additional knock-on costs, such as when unforeseen ecological surveys have to be carried out during particular seasons. So, if you’re a homeowner with a desire for a new kitchen extension, or a small-scale developer working on a project, the Biodiversity in Planning Wildlife Assessment Check tool can reduce delays and unexpected costs by assessing your land early on.
How does it work?
It’s extremely easy to use and allows you to check, at home, whether you’ll need expert ecological advice before you even submit your planning application. You simply enter information such as your postcode, the type of work you intend to have done, and answer some quick questions about the site.
Once you’ve completed the check, which takes about 5 minutes, the tool will tell you whether your project is likely to require professional ecological advice. It will also give you details of the potential wildlife that will need to be considered, plus it will provide you with a report for you to download and give to the consultant ecologist and submit it as part of your planning application.
Why is it important?
“The Wildlife Assessment Checker tool is really simple to use, and helped us find out what wildlife was around our home before we went ahead with our extension. And it only took 5 minutes!” – Debbie, homeowner
New development projects in the UK have a wide-ranging impact on our wildlife. Protected and priority species are threatened when developments change or damage the structure of the natural environment. Sensitive landscape design helps threatened species like hedgehogs recover.
Considering local ecology early can also hopefully prevent projects incurring delays, unexpected costs, and prevent reassessing potential ecological impacts during a planning application. This is where Biodiversity in Planning are making a huge positive change.
We at People’s Trust for Endangered Species have also contributed to building this tool by partnering with Biodiversity in Planning, providing particular expert advice on the conservation of hazel dormice, water voles, and hedgehogs. We would strongly encourage anyone to use this tool before beginning works and hope that together we can all support a more sustainable method of development in the future.
You can access the tool on Biodiversity in Planning’s website here and find out more information.