Ecological Impact Assessments
We prepare comprehensive and fit-for-purpose Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) as either stand-alone reports or for use as chapters of an EIS/EIAR. The scope of each EcIA is tailored to the specific client’s requirements of their site and project. They can be targeted at a specific ecological subject matter of relevance, or span the full spectrum of ecology, from terrestrial habitats, flora and fauna, to freshwater, marine and avian ecology. Our EcIA are solutions-focused, proposing ways to mitigate potential impacts rather than just identify problems. Our clients benefit from the EcIA experience we bring to their projects, from having worked on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.
Habitats Directive Assessments (AASR / NIS / HDA)
The requirements of the EU habitats directive are well known to us, and we prepare Appropriate Assessment Screening Reports (AASR) as Stage 1 assessment/reports or Natura Impact Statements (NIS) as Stage 2 assessment/reports. Our expert knowledge of the requirements, pitfalls and nuances of habitats directive assessments has been honed by completing many hundred such assessments/reports over the last decade. Our knowledge of the planning system, makes us acutely aware of the planning implications of conducting a Stage 2 assessment for developments that otherwise would not require planning permission. Given our experience, we can advise clients very quickly on whether a Stage 1 “screening” will suffice or whether a full Stage 2 “assessment” is required.
Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW)
To help clients get their civil engineering projects completed while avoiding ecological risks and resultant delays, we provide Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) to oversee and guide construction projects. The ECoW can clear the way for construction activities by carrying out pre-commencement surveys (badgers, bat roost, otter, etc.) or can stay on-site to work with contractors to ensure ecological mitigation measures are being implemented in the most effective manner. Sites with invasive species (e.g. Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam) regularly require an ECoW presence to ensure excavated materials are identified and managed properly, and costs to contractors/developers are minimised. Our presence can by full-time or more occasional, as required by the scale of project, site sensitivity or client’s requirements.
Our bat surveying experience, equipment and expertise allows us to manage surveys from the most sensitive of locations to the largest of sites. We have invested in the latest handheld and remote identification technology and software, and use that to improve bat survey accuracy and result confidence. Our team, which includes qualified bat handlers, conduct all types of bat surveys required, walked surveys, building inspections, remote surveys or a combination of all the above. Surveys are tailored to the site, the type of proposed development and the time of year. Monitoring devices can be left in place for weeks or months at a time, capturing long-period data across large sites, giving large amounts of data that would otherwise be very costly to capture via surveyors.
Habitat Surveys & Mapping
Our habitat surveying and habitat mapping is a fundamental component of practically every ecological survey we undertake. We also conduct large-scale dedicated habitat survey and mapping exercises over large scale sites ranging from thousands of hectares to hundreds of kilometres along waterway or other corridors. We use the most efficient digital mapping tools, assisted by high-quality aerial photography, with ground truthing by experience ecologists on-foot. We can tailor the data captured to the client’s individual requirements or GIS specifications. We use the optimum combination of technology for efficiency, and experienced ecological personnel for full confidence in our survey results and outputs.
Protected Species Surveys
Protected species often require dedicated surveys, either as part of impact assessments reports or for conservation research projects, and we regularly do both. We conduct Stage 1 and Stage 2 Freshwater Pearl Mussel surveys, or surveys for Lamprey, White-Clawed Crayfish in other watercourses. On land, Otter, Badger and Marsh Fritillary butterfly surveys are amongst the most common we undertake. Every species of bat found in Ireland is legally protected, and Bat Surveys are one of our specialist areas. All protected species surveys are designed with the client’s purposes and requirement in mind, whether that be to fully inform an impact assessment report accompanying a planning application, or do a comprehensive baseline survey for future reference.
Invasive Species Surveys & Management
We survey, identify and propose management options for dealing with all types of invasive species. We do so primarily for civil engineering contractors, utilities or developers who must deal with invasive species during their project. We also act for property, insurance and financial firms who need to assess any invasive species risks associated with their property interests. The initial surveys we conduct can be supplemented with on-site Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) staff during the construction stage, to ensure the invasive plant materials are being properly managed and costs of treatment, management and disposal and minimised. We bring a practical, experienced and pragmatic approach to every invasive species job.
We prepare Ecological Management Plans, Conservation Strategies and Ecological Audit Reports for public bodies and state agencies. We supplement the expert knowledge held within those client organisations, with additional ecological capabilities and capacity, to meet their requirements. We can assign multiple members of our Ecology Team to work on completing assignments in short timeframes, when a particular deadline must be met. We have supported clients by providing these services on projects relating to National Parks, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, amongst others. Rarely are any two such projects the same, and the individual requirements or every client, site or projects are identified and customised to ensure the outputs are fit-for-purpose.
Call us to discuss your next project – 091 735 611
Our experienced ecologists and qualified arborists undertake tree surveys as may be required as part of a planning permission application or to accompany a development proposal. Recording, identifying and classifying the key differentiating parameters of trees, in addition to assessing condition, is important in determining whether a development proposal might impact on tree setting or condition. Our tree surveys can also encompass tree protection recommendations, which can be adopted by developers or authorities as requirements to be taken into the development phase of a project.
Competent Authority Support
We regularly support Planning Authorities in fulfilling their role as the “Competent Authority” for the purposes of the Habitats Directive. We independently assess planning applications and proposals and the ecological reports, screening assessment or Natura Impact Statements that accompany them. We advise the Competent Authorities on the ecological subject matter under consideration, which may be outside their own areas of expertise.
In providing recommendations and reporting on any proposal, the Competent Authority can adopt our recommendations as their own or consider along with their own internal views or opinions coming from elsewhere, in reaching their final decision. Our offering to Competent Authority is a support and advisory service, as the statutory function always remains with the Authority itself.
Article 6(4) & IROPI – Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest
Having been involved in the first development in the State to rely on the provisions of Article 6(4) of the EU Habitats Directive, and make a case that the development should proceed for Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI), we have an intimate working knowledge of the procedures and processes involved in attempting to progress projects in this way. We advise clients that believe their project may have to be progressed via Article 6(4) route, of the implications and obligations of pursuing such a strategy.