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Ten years on from the previous edition, CIEEM (the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) has just released revised guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and our Technical Director, Carlos Abrahams, reviews them here.

“Ecology is one of the most common issues that needs to be addressed within Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), alongside other disciplines such as water quality, landscape and cultural heritage.

“The new guidelines are intended to promote good practice in assessing  terrestrial, freshwater and coastal environments in the UK and Ireland. This can be in the context of formal EIA, or on smaller-scale projects when a simpler assessment is required to support a straightforward planning application. The new guidance sets out best practice in producing an effective assessment, with input from contributing ecologists and other specialists working in collaboration.

Ecological Impact Assessments are needed for a wide range of developments

Ecological Impact Assessments are needed for a wide range of developments

“An EcIA report (or the ecological chapter of an EIA Environmental Statement) should clearly and simply describe the significant effects of any project so that competent authorities and other interested parties understand the implications of development proposals.

“The new guidance joins other advice from CIEEM, the government and the British Standards Institute in how ecological input should be incorporated into the development and planning process, helping to implement the requirements of legislation such as the EIA Regulations and other aspects of the Town and Country Planning Act.”

Our approach to Ecological Impact Assesment

Baker Consultants have experience of all stages of the EIA and EcIA process, from data collection to assessment of anticipated impacts, and from mitigation and assessment of any residual effects, to non-technical summaries and cumulative assessments. Our in-house team of ecology consultants has a wealth of experience of working in large multidisciplinary teams alongside landscape architects, transport consultants, planners, and archaeologists to produce co-ordinated assessments of schemes.

We are always aware that any of our work may be subject to the detailed scrutiny of a public inquiry and have extensive experience of taking projects through the appeal process or even to the courts. For this reason, we have developed a reputation as a ‘safe pair of hands’ and are often called in to deal with situations where careful negotiations are required or where an experienced expert witness is needed.

Read more about our experience of EIAs and EcIAs here

Baker Consultants was awarded a contract with Commercial Estates Group (CEG) to provide comprehensive ecology input for the proposed Hele Park development scheme in Devon at outline planning stage. Following this, Redrow, the housebuilder developing the site, subsequently contracted the team to provide ecological advice on the detailed planning application for Phase Three of the development.

One of the plans of Redrow's development at Hele Park

One of the plans of Redrow’s development at Hele Park

The baseline ecology surveys and Landscape and Ecology Management Plan (LEMP) helped to ensure that the ecological impact of the development was reduced and that the development was integrated into the wider landscape setting. Following our advice, important ecological features were retained and new habitat created as part of a robust green infrastructure. Bats, dormice, birds and amphibians are all set to benefit from early ecological input into the development.

The Hele Park development was a particularly complex scheme that successfully received planning permission with very few conditions for its size. Early involvement from our experienced team in assessing and designing the ecology aspects into the project contributed to this success and that of the subsequent Hele Park Phase Three.

Carlos Abrahams, Technical Director at Baker Consultants, said: “The Hele Park development benefitted from our involvement from the early stages of the project. Our expertise allowed us to provide a cost-effective, innovative package of ecological surveys and a comprehensive Landscape and Ecology Management Plan to ensure ecological compliance at all stages of this complex scheme.”

Read the full case study here.