We offer a full range of expert ecological advice and surveys through our network of experienced and qualified Associate Ecologists and undertake work throughout Scotland and other parts of the UK. All our ecologists are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and hold relevant licences, Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards and are First Aid trained. Aquila Ecology has Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurances.
We provide a professional and cost-effective service to our clients by seeking innovative solutions to potential problems. We deliver high quality work and have a huge bank of experience and knowledge to draw within our network of ecologists which also enables us to offer a flexible and responsive service to meet the needs of each project.
Many of our native mammals have suffered serious population declines within the past few decades leading to some species being specially protected under and are generally also listed as priority species in the Scottish Biodiversity List. This protection can limit what activities developers, private landowners and house holders can proceed with without an appropriate survey. If any protected species are found during a survey, a licence may need to be applied for and a Species Protection Plan will be required.
Along with our network of colleagues, our ecologists have extensive experience of completing mammal surveys at a variety of different sites across Scotland, England and Wales to confirm the presence or absence of a range of protected species. We can complete surveys for the following protected mammal species:
- Badger – protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended).
- Bats - all bat species are classed as European Protected Species and are fully protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
- European Otter - classed as a European Protected Species protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
- Pine Marten - protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
- Polecat - classed as a European Protected Species protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
- Red Squirrel – protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
- Water Vole – protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). In Scotland, the legal protection is currently restricted to the Water Vole’s place of shelter and does not extend to the animals themselves. Full protected is proposed.
- Scottish Wildcat - classed as a European Protected Species protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
We can also complete ‘at height’ surveys for accessing trees using rope access to check bat roosts and squirrel dreys.
In addition to completing surveys, we can provide advice in the early stages to give you an idea of the best times to plan surveys and works on a site as surveys for certain species are restricted to specific times of year. Following survey, we can draft licence applications on your behalf with accompanying Species Protection Plans and liaise with the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England or Natural Resources Wales). We can also put into effect recommended mitigation and complete any long term monitoring that may be required as part of any licence conditions and we can complete an Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) role during construction works.
Habitat and Vegetation Surveys
The UK has a wealth of terrestrial and freshwater habitats including grassland, fens, marsh, dunes, rivers and woodland. These habitats provide homes for thousands of species and as such some types of habitats and some specific sites receive special protection under National and International Law.
Our network of ecologists includes botanists who have completed surveys in a number of habitats throughout the UK. We are able to undertake the following surveys:
- Phase 1 Habitat Survey - this type of habitat survey provides a general picture of the habitats present on a site, their condition, their extent and their legal status at the beginning of a development to help inform if further survey will be required and what type of limitations may be present. The survey aims to flag up any protected habitats or plants (including invasive plant species) and can be “extended” to include a survey for protected fauna. The survey findings will be presented in a report with an accompanying map.
- National Vegetation Classification (NVC) –this type of survey provides more detail than a Phase 1 Habitat Survey and may be necessary when certain habitat types have been identified or on sites that have some form of protection. Each habitat is defined using a set of categories of vegetation types found in the UK. This more detailed picture can aid micro-siting of infrastructure within a development or inform a Habitat Restoration or Habitat Management Plan.
- Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystem (GWDTE) Assessment - this type of survey is carried out on habitats that have been identified as wet habitats. Following the NVC survey rational, this survey can identify where groundwater may be affected by excavation works on a site. Within the report, areas will be assigned a score of dependency and mapped accordingly with appropriate recommendations to aid the planning of any development.
- Habitat Management Plans – following on from an assessment of habitats and the ecology of a site, we can produce Habitat Management Plans to satisfy any planning conditions following completion of a development or to help to improve the biodiversity within any site that would like to make a positive contribution to their area.
All bird species are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Conservation Act 1981 (as amended) during the breeding season regardless of their population size. The length of the breeding season varies between species, but the peak months are April-August. Birds breed in most habitats including the built environment so bird surveys are a common requirement of any type of development.
Some species have enhanced protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Conservation Act 1981 (as amended) or have been identified as Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK (Eaton et al, 2015) and therefore require special consideration and survey.
All our ecologists are experienced in carrying out a range of bird surveys and we have extensive experience in completing raptor surveys and upland bird surveys. We hold Schedule 1 licences for a number of species. We can complete the following bird surveys:
- Breeding Bird Survey (all habitats)
- Vantage Point Survey
- Black Grouse Survey
- Breeding Raptor Survey
- Wintering bird Survey
- Barn Owl Survey
Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) Service
Having an assigned ECoW on a site is often a requirement of planning and the role of the ECoW is to ensure that the client remains compliant with the law whilst offering practical advice to facilitate site workers to meet development timescales. Getting things right first time can save a lot of time and money.
Our ECoW services include:
- Advising and reviewing works Method Statements
- Advising on required licences and drafting applications
- Delivering ‘Toolbox Talks’ (as and when necessary)
- Completing regular site visits and producing internal reports and external reports for the Local Planning Authority
- Advising on and/or designing and implementing mitigation measures
Our aim is always to ensure that a good working relationship is maintained at all times with all relevant personnel. Wherever possible, workable solutions will be negotiated on site to ensure that avoiding impacts to ecological features does not interfere with working schedules and we aim to identify ecological sensitivities on site as soon as possible.