Thomson Ecology has been providing ecology advice from the start for a UK Government Garden Village initiative for approximately 6,000 residential units, retail and employment centres, schools, community facilities and public greenspace.
We were commissioned to undertake an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and prepare the Ecology Chapter of the Environmental Statement (ES). Following a preliminary ecological appraisal – consisting of an ecological desk study and Phase 1 habitat survey – we subsequently conducted surveys for bats, badgers, birds, dormice, amphibians, invertebrates, otters, water voles and reptiles, and a National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey of woodland.
Our impact assessment determined that without mitigation there would be likely significant adverse effects on fauna, habitats and designated sites for nature conservation, so we prepared a mitigation strategy to reduce the impact on species and habitats, and where possible, create beneficial effects. This included retention and protection of existing habitat, and creation and management of new habitat.
A 78ha Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) will be provided with recreational areas to mitigate the negative impacts of increased visitor numbers on designated sites for nature conservation, especially affecting wintering birds. This will include a circular woodland walk, car parking, good information for visitors, exercise areas for dogs, safe paths and a choice of walking routes and viewing sites. The SANG not only integrates the need for recreational space, but also provides conservation areas which were required to mitigate adverse effects on habitats such as woodlands and hedgerows, and on species such as reptiles, dormice and bats.
We liaised closely with the project design team to integrate areas for ecological mitigation, compensation and amenity greenspace into the masterplan. This included making changes to the lighting scheme design and the layout of road networks.
The application has now been submitted for planning approval.