Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEA) and Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) both typically comprise a desk study and an extended Phase-1 habitat survey, but their purposes are slightly different.
A PEA is often the first stage in evaluating a site's ecological value. Where protected or notable species or habitats are recorded, or the potential presence of protected species is identified, recommendations are made for mitigation and for further surveys where necessary.
An EcIA is used to identify, quantify and evaluate the potential effects of a development or other proposed works on habitats, species and ecosystems within the imapcted area. Increasingly, this is a prerequisite for larger developments, either independently or as part of a wider Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental Statement (ES).
Desk Study / Consultation
In order to gain a greater level of information on the species and habitats present in the surrounding area, a desk study or consultation is normally undertaken. This involves EMEC Ecology consulting with local record holders (local record centre, wildlife trusts, local natural history groups) to obtain any existing records of protected and / or notable species and designated nature conservation sites, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Wildlife Sites (LWS). This information can then be used to further evaluate the likelihood of protected species being present, or not present, within the site itself.
Extended Phase-1 Habitat Survey
This type of survey follows a standard methodology and involves systematically walking over a site and classifying each parcel of land on the basis of vegetation into one of approximately 90 habitats. Notes are made on the structure and composition of habitats and a botanical species list is also recorded. Target notes are used to record any habitats or features of particular interest and any sightings, signs or evidence of protected or notable faunal species or any potential habitat for such species. This type of survey and subsequent report is normally suitable for small to medium-scale housing developments and similar schemes.
Ecological Impact Assessment
An EcIA includes an assessment of the likley effects of the proposed works, once all mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures have been taken into account. Therefore, as part of EcIAs, EMEC Ecology will often design (and if required, implement) a wide range of mitigation and habitat creation / enhancement measures to ensure the ecological impact of the development is not considered significant. EMEC Ecology can produce 'stand alone' Ecological Impact Assessment reports or produce the Ecology Chapter for an ES or EIA to a specified format. An EcIA will normally include a desk study and an extended Phase-1 habitat survey (as detailed above), as well as a suite of specific protected species surveys, as appropriate to the site.
Following the Survey
A report will be produced detailing the survey methodologies, results, an assessment of the ecological value of the habitats and an evaluation of any potential ecological issues which may be associated with the site. The report will also include recommendations for general mitigation measures (e.g. advice on safe working practices), consultation and further surveys as necessary.