Surveying for harvest mouse nests

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA)

This baseline survey is usually your first ecology requirement when thinking about developing a site. It has come under the title of many names in the past, including ‘Scoping’ or ‘Phase 1’ surveys, but PEA is formally the correct term at the moment.

The PEA provides an initial overview of the potential for proposed development to impact on legally protected and notable wildlife habitats and species and biodiversity in general. It typically involves an ecologist conducting an ‘Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey’ of the proposed development site, whereby habitat types are classified and plotted on a map along with notes on the potential for protected and notable species to be present.

The walkover survey is usually accompanied in the PEA by a desk study, whereby we identify any relevant biological records on and surrounding the site as well as statutory and non-statutory sites designated for nature conservation in the area, which may be impacted by the development.

A PEA can be used to inform proposed works of any kind, to ensure legal compliance, even where no planning permission is required.

Where planning permission is required and no ecological constraints are identified, the PEA is usually sufficient on its own to support a full planning application. However, where further surveys are deemed necessary before ecological impacts can be fully assessed, the Local Planning Authority will usually require this additional information prior to submission of the planning application.

Additional information required via further surveys most commonly relate to:

  • Legally protected species or habitats, which must be taken into account regardless of planning requirements.
  • Notable species or habitats considered to be of priority conservation concern, as listed under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006). No legal protection is afforded to these species or habitats, but they form a material consideration of planning.
  • Biodiversity net gain; where planning permission is sought, the National Planning Policy Framework (2019) requires that all developments aim for ‘biodiversity net gain’. This encompasses all ecology within a site, not just that which is afforded legal or priority status.

Timings: The PEA can be carried out at any time of year.

Contact us now with any ecology queries: Claire Munn, Principal Ecologist: