Below are answers to some of the questions we regularly get asked. If you cannot see anything which successfully answers your query, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to explain further.
Q. My local planning authority has requested a reptile survey – when can this be undertaken?
A. April to September inclusive – must include one or more of the following key months: April, May, or September
Q. My local planning authority has requested a dormouse survey – when can this be undertaken?
A. A dormouse survey will involve erecting nest tubes and boxes in suitable habitat in March. These must be checked for evidence of dormice on several occasions during April and November.
Q. Why do I need a bat and barn owl survey? I have never seen any bats or owls here!
A. A bat and barn owl survey is usually requested as part of your planning application for works on certain types of buildings (i.e. barn conversions, demolition of garage/workshop) and can be undertaken at any time of the year.
Bats and barn owls are protected, therefore it is illegal to disturb or harm these animals, either intentionally or unintentionally. UK bat roosts are protected even when the animals are not present and as bats are very secretive creatures they can hide away in the smallest crevices – it takes an experienced professional ecologist to determine if there are any signs of use.
Barn owls may not be nesting in your building, especially if its not a barn – but sometimes other birds will be, for example swallows. Our survey includes these details because nesting birds are also protected.
Due to a recent high court decision*, Planning Officers should no longer approve planning permission without having a full mitigation plan that will be put in place should bats be found within your property. This is actually very good news for bat conservation, because it was still a frequent occurrence that planning conditions were being ignored; so bat roosts were being destroyed, bats were being disturbed, injured or even killed and no mitigation was in place for these animals to keep using the building as their home.
The main problem for clients however is this – it is very difficult provide suitable mitigation information without knowing exactly what species of bat are there, how they are using it and why they are using it – and because bats hibernate we can’t survey for this information until they are awake and active again….which is between May and September.
Of course we cannot manipulate the season. However, we are determined to make this as easy as we possibly can for our clients to get through the initial planning phase – we appreciate the planning process is expensive, time consuming and no doubt frustrating at times, so if we can we will offer solutions such as hibernation surveys. These surveys outside of the ‘normal’ bat season will be of valuable use if an EPS (European Protected Species) licence is required to enable the work to take place.
However, you should be aware that bat and barn owl assessments can be undertaken throughout any time of the year and will still be required as part of your planning application.
*Ref: Judicial review judgement – Woolley VS Cheshire East Borough Council and Millennium Estates Ltd.
Q. Why do I need ecological surveys?
A. Many wildlife habitats can be destroyed during developments and construction of buildings, roads and railways. It is our job to survey the area you wish to develop before works take place (and occasionally during and after) for wildlife and suitable habitats – this not only ensures that any protected species are not harmed or disturbed during development works but also to maintain habitats whenever possible. Mitigation to replace habitats can be implemented as well.
Q. Surely this is all just added expense I could do without?
A. Our fees are very competitive and without our services your project will be delayed….ultimately costing you time and more money. If you do not stay within the law, hefty fines and even a jail sentence can consequence, so when you put it into perspective our services are hugely beneficial to you and your project.
Q. I don’t understand the time constraints on certain wildlife surveys – can you please explain?
A. Depending on what wildlife we are surveying for, will depend on when the best time is to do it. For example, bats hibernate in the winter months; therefore we cannot obtain reliable evidence of bat activity until May to September when they are feeding, breeding and raising their young. Other wildlife will migrate, or be most active at dusk or dawn, or require warm days, or require dry days etc.
It is of great benefit to determine what surveys you need and when, so your project does not face unnecessary delays. Your appointed ecologist can help with this. We have also created an ‘Ecological Survey Calendar’ which you may find useful – click here to view it.
Q. Are you anything to do with Environmental Health?
A. No. We do not deal with environmental health issues, waste control, pest control or flooding. Please contact your local council for these matters.
Q. Do you undertake mining surveys, soil contamination, water testing or noise pollution?
A. No. Please see our links page for other businesses offering these services.
Landscape Architecture FAQs
Q. Why do I need a Landscape Architect?
A. CEC’s landscape architects will work with you to select and assess potential sites or proposals, prepare comprehensive masterplans, and develop schemes which take into account all aspects of the site’s existing environment as well as your own development timescale, budget and aspirations. In the long term this will save you time, money, and minimise planning risk.
Q. When should I appoint a Landscape Architect?
A. Ideally as soon as a potential project is identified to help you develop your ideas into feasible proposals and find a suitable site, though sometimes this isn’t how things work based on previous experience we are confident that consideration of environmental issues at very early masterplanning stages results in better proposals more likely to get planning approval.
Q. Why should I use CEC Landscape?
A. CEC Landscape is a close knit team working both independently and collaboratively alongside clients, community, and the environment to create genuinely sustainable landscapes. Our attention to detail, innovative design solutions, and extensive professional experience, as well as our commitment to our Cornish environment and ease of access to other consultancy services means fewer points of contact for you and a more professional, coordinated, service from us.
Q. I’ve been told I need an ‘LVIA’, can you do this?
A. Yes, we have a strong background in preparation of Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments for a range of projects including windfarms, highway infrastructure, residential and mixed use developments, and commercial development. We can prepare assessments to inform all stages of a project, from initial constraints and opportunities for masterplanning to planning application and appeal.
Q. I need to include a Zone of Visual Influence in my reports, can you prepare one?
A. We have all the necessary software and skills in house to prepare clear, accurate ZVI’s (or ZTV/Zone of Theoretical Visibility as they are also known) to accompany your own landscape and visual reports, all we need from you is the design and information on heights of relevant features.
Q. My planning application has been approved but with conditions requiring a ‘detailed landscape scheme’, can you help?
A. Yes, we have prepared several schemes to discharge landscape related planning conditions, which you will need to do before any work can commence on site. We will review any previous design and discuss what needs to be done to discharge the condition with you and the relevant planning officer to make sure everything’s covered from the start. We can also advise you on discharge of conditions relating to landscape maintenance plans, tree surveys, and arboricultural methods statements and protected species work.
Q. I need more BREEAM credits for my project, my assessor says I can get these by including sustainable planting and amenity areas; can you prepare a plan for this?
A. We’ve prepared several landscape designs and planting plans to accompany BREEAM reports and would advise you to also seek the advice of one of our ecologists to maximise your points potential.
Q. Can you design my garden/local school grounds for me?
A. CEC can design a range of landscapes at all scales and private or small scale public gardens are often some of the most enjoyable commissions. Our landscape architects would be happy to discuss your requirements to see whether we can help you. Though we don’t currently offer construction services we can also advise you on selecting and appointing landscaping contractors.