Ecological Impact Assessment
Evaluating project impacts on biodiversity
An Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is used to identify and evaluate the impacts of a project or plans on biodiversity both on the site and surrounding sites. It is generally one aspect of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but it can occasionally be requested individually by the local authority. An EIA is required for any projects/plans that are listed on Schedule 1 or that exceed the limits on Schedule within the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2017. These include mineral or gas projects, large housing developments, motorways and express roads, significant infrastructure and more.
The EcIA process
1. Screening – The project plans are assessed and it is determined whether an EcIA is required. Often, this is requested by the local authorities.
2. Scoping – The EcIA begins with an Extended Phase I Habitat Survey, the first step in identifying any potential protected or important species or habitats within the site or surrounding area. If required, further Phase II surveys will be undertaken to have a full understanding of the importance and extent of wildlife or habitats on site.
3. Evaluation – With the survey information collected, each component of the site will be evaluated including its habitats, species and overall importance for biodiversity. This is based on a set scale ranging from negligible to international importance.
4. Interpretation – The project plans will be assessed for their impacts and the magnitude and significance of each impact on the biodiversity components of the site will be assessed throughout the entire existence of the project.
5. Mitigation – Ecosupport will design bespoke avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures to demonstrate to authorities how any adverse impacts can be circumvented.
6. Final Assessment – The final result is a calculation of the combination of any impacts with avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures put in place to prove that the project will not result in any significant impacts on local biodiversity.
We want to make sure our clients are able to get their projects through planning permission. Our strategy is to:
- Begin the process early and, where possible, development designs or plans should be altered to avoid harm to biodiversity – this is a less expensive and easier option to get planning approval
- Work closely with our clients and other consultants working as part of the project (such as dust, noise and air quality assessors) to help design a project scheme that will meet the requirements for everybody involved
- Provide pragmatic advice and mitigation at an appropriate scale for the project
- Communicate often and clearly with our clients at all stages of the process
- Assist our clients in discharging planning conditions for the project by implementing mitigation and compensation measures to see the project to completion