Reptiles & the Law
We have six native species of reptile in the UK, all of which are afforded protection from the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981). This protects the four common species, Adder, Grass Snake, Slow Worm and Common Lizard, against deliberate or reckless killing or injury, although their habitat is not legally protected.
The rarer Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard receive full protection from the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) as well as the Habitats Regulations (2017) making it an offence to disturb them with their habitat also being protected.
Reptiles are found in a number of different habitat types and locations ranging from the edges of agricultural fields and gardens to heathland and roadside verges. They tend to favour structured semi-improved grassland with areas of scrub.
A site is assessed for its suitability to support reptiles at the Phase I stage, which can be carried out at any time of the year. If suitable reptile habitat will be impacted on site, further surveying is required.
Phase II surveys
If further surveys are required, pieces of tin or bitumen roofing felt are distributed within the suitable habitat, which the ecologist will subsequently check seven times during the suitable season, searching for reptiles warming themselves underneath. Reptile surveys are best carried out during spring and late summer.
Impacts on development
If reptiles are found on site then we will create a mitigation strategy that will need to be submitted to the Local Planning Authority detailing measures that will be taken to lessen the risk of harm to reptiles on site. Where appropriate a suitable area is retained on site and reptiles within the impacted area are captured and released within the chosen receptor site. Ecosupport can enhance your site for reptiles through habitat management and installation of hibernacula within the site.
Ecosupport staff are highly experienced in carrying out reptile surveys and preparing successful mitigation strategies. All of our field staff are competent in the safe handling and capture of reptiles with continual training given, accounting for the most up to date methods.