Ecological compliance ticked off for Father Christmas by helpers at LaplandUK

Thomson Environmental Consultants have made a list, and checked it twice, in relation to reptile population management at the Father Christmas story event, LaplandUK, following a third year undertaking successful ecological surveys.

Seven surveys were carried out at one of LaplandUK’s regular sites at Whitmoor Forest in Ascot, Berkshire. Over a two-week period, this autumn, a team of Thomson ecologists carried out an annual compliance check and reptile surveys to ensure that again the site would be suitable for the construction of the Christmas themed buildings.

Preparing for Father Christmas’s arrival

During a walkover survey, ecologists identified that an area of the site had features suitable for reptiles to use. Under ecological supervision, to ensure that no reptiles were injured or killed during the removal; and that reptiles would likely be absent within the construction site boundary, the features in question were removed by LaplandUK, ready for construction to begin.

To estimate populations, 250 dark tarpaulin-like mats were then placed around the site in areas suitable for reptiles, to encourage refuge and basking behaviours. Over the two-week period, seven surveys were carried out across the site, with the mats and nearby rocks, grass and fallen tree branches being checked for reptiles. After which, the mats were removed from the site.

Lizards in LaplandUK

In 2016, following initial surveys, a medium population of slow worm and a small population of common lizard and grass snake, were found to be breeding on the site. Following those surveys, Thomson prepared documentation for the annual compliance check and reptile surveys, under the previously agreed Landscape Management Plan and Reptile Mitigation Strategy.

The documentation was accepted by the local planning authority, outlining the mitigation required for the event to go ahead each year, whilst maintaining the ecological value of the habitat and the population of protected reptile species on the site.

In 2018, both slow worm and common lizard were recorded as breeding on the site, but no grass snakes were observed. The compliance check findings, recommendations and reptile survey results were then submitted to the local planning authority to satisfy LaplandUK’s on-going planning conditions.

As a precaution, Thomson has made recommendations to pay further attention to improve the suitability of the LaplandUK site for grass snakes going forward, and to continue to monitor the effects of events like these on reptile populations.

How we can help you

Reptile surveys are required if your development proposals could potentially impact on their suitable habitat, or directly on the species themselves. Thomson’s team of qualified ecologists undertake a wide and varied range of compliance checks and ecological surveying for various species throughout the year.

Talk to us today about how we can help you with your requirements, to keep your project on track.

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