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Protected Species Surveys

Protected species surveys are a legal requirement if any of the species listed in Article 12 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 or the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 are identified on a given site.  The presence of which will be identified in prior surveys. 

The penalties for reckless or deliberate disturbance of these species are severe and are often the decision makers in development companies may be held accountable. Even quite ordinary urban sites often support Great Crested Newts or bats and these amongst other flora and fauna need to be surveyed for, and if necessary, provided with alternative habitats.

We have worked with numerous clients on sites where protected species are present. This has included: the supply, installation and maintenance of newt fencing; providing integrated bat bricks for the Defence Estates, and the installation of hibernacula and wildlife ponds for commercial developers to name a few. 

At Ecosurv, our specialist team of ecologists collectively hold Natural England survey licenses for all the major protected species. We are also able to obtain mitigation licenses and undertake the necessary mitigation works for developments where impacts upon protected species cannot be avoided.  

Key Species

Bats (Risk Assessment)

The purpose of an initial Preliminary Roost Appraisal (PRA) is to provide information on the suitability of the site for the roosting bats. The PRA will document any evidence of bats being present, within the proposed development areas, and will identify any features on site such as buildings and trees which have features suitable for roosting bats. An assessment of the surrounding habitat in regard to its value for foraging and commuting bats will also be undertaken.

In accordance with good practice, the assessment would also ascertain if any other protected species may be using the site, document the habitats present and determine any potential ecological impacts arising from the proposed development.

Bats (Activity)

Following the results of the PRA, bat activity surveys may be recommended;  Bat activity surveys are carried out by our team of experienced bat surveyors using the latest technology including full spectrum bat detectors and infra-red cameras.

The survey season for bat activity surveys runs from May to August.


The combined results of the assessment and surveys inform the requirement of any additional survey effort, mitigation measures and/or compensation to be incorporated into the proposed works.

Great Crested Newts

The initial assessment will include an assessment of the habitats on the site in regard to their suitability to support GCN.  Potential refugia (such as logs, stones, discarded building materials etc.) are checked for any presence of GCN, and a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment is carried out on any waterbodies present on, or near to the site to determine the suitability of the ponds for GCN.  The results of this assessment will determine the requirement for further surveys.

Where the HSI assessment identifies the presence of suitable breeding ponds, wither on site or within the zone of influence of a development. Further survey effort may be recommended. All Initial eDNA testing of water samples is a fast and efficient way to determine their presence or likely absence, within the ponds and can avoid the requirement for more intensive survey effort. 

Results of either the HSI, eDNA or a known local may require a population assessment to be undertaken. Great Crested Newt population surveys can be carried out in a number of forms.  Ecosurv’s surveyors hold licences to carry out bottle trapping, pitfall trapping and netting. 

Wild Birds

Wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and cannot be killed, injured or taken except under license. Birds breed during the spring and summer months and during this time they are very vulnerable to impacts on nests and eggs. Nesting birds are also protected which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or take or damage or destroy its nest whilst in use or being built, or to take or destroy its eggs. In addition to this, for some rarer, endangered, declining or vulnerable birds (listed on Schedule 1 of the Act), it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb them while they are nest building or are in, on or near to the nest with eggs or young, or to disturb the dependent young of such a bird. The penalties can include a fine or imprisonment or both. 

Bird surveys can be undertaken throughout the year, and a range of surveys undertaken at different times of the year will record different bird populations of over-wintering, breeding and migrant birds. Ecosurv has substantial experience in ornithological surveys and bird mitigation schemes including working with the Civil Aviation Authorities on bird management strategies to avoid bird strikes. 


Habitats are assessed with regard to their suitability to support reptiles. This is largely based whether they afford sufficient opportunities to support the species requirements for basking, foraging and sheltering. Any refugia present is also checked for the presence of reptiles or evidence of reptiles, such as sloughs (shed skins).

Further surveys to determine the presence of reptiles includes placing artificial refugia within the survey area which are checked over a period of time by the ecologist.  The optimal reptile survey season takes place during April, May and September. Where a reptile population is identified on site, we can assist with the creation of an appropriate mitigation strategy to minimise impacts from the proposed development.


An otter survey identifies habitat features to inform a Habitat Suitability Assessment and includes a systematic search for evidence of otter presence. Signs of otter presence include spraints (dung), holts (underground dens), prints and tracks, evidence of feeding, slides (into water) and couches (above-ground resting areas).

Otter surveys can be undertaken throughout the year, however spring is the optimum survey time has water levels recede. In some situations, it may be necessary to undertake multiple surveys, at different times of the year to take into account seasonal changes in otter activity.


Surveys aim to visually document sightings of water voles themselves or any indicative features suggesting that the site is being used by water voles. These include feeding stations, latrine areas and burrows. A risk assessment of the proposed works would also be carried out on all areas where evidence of water voles was found. Surveys are best undertaken between April-September with April-June being the optimal period.


An assessment of the site and surrounding habitats is carried out by means of a walkover survey. A particular focus will be given to woodland, sheltered embankments andany areas of dense vegetation to identify any evidence of badgers. Thisa includes the presence of any active or inactive setts, latrines, foraging signs (snuffle holes), well-used runs/tracks and hairs or prints. 

If badgers are identified within the site, further surveys may be required which includes observation using trail cameras and night vision recording equipment. 

Barn Owl

Initially, a barn owl survey consists of a desk study and a physical inspection of the development site for evidence of barn owl occupancy focussing on features that could provide roosting or nesting sites for barn owls.  Evidence of barn owls includes droppings, eggs, feathers and pellets. 

Vantage point surveys may be carried out to observe barn owls in flight to inform population counts and identify the location of nest sites.

To request a quote, please complete the form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Ecosurv Ltd

21 High Green

Great Ayton


01642 724800

Contact us

Office Hours

Monday                 9:00am - 5:00pm

Tuesday                 9:00am - 5:00pm

Wednesday          9:00am - 5:00pm

Thursday               9:00am - 5:00pm

Friday                      9:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday                CLOSED

Sunday                   CLOSED

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