Ecosulis ltd are proud to announce that one of our major projects has been selected as an example of Good Practice in the Governments recently published (March 2006) "Planning for Biodiversity and Geological Conservation - A Guide to Good Practice". ecosulis ltd have been providing full ecological consultancy and contracting services in relation to the Swindon Southern Development Area since 1998. The SDA (now known as Wichelstowe) was included in the Good Practice guide since it was recognized for its innovative and forward thinking approach to biodiversity. The guide highlights the example shown by the SDA and other sites by stating that they "demonstrate the value of carrying out ecological surveys and building any mitigation or compensation necessary into the design of the scheme well in advance of the development actually taking place. Where biodiversity interest is discovered during construction, it is usually much more difficult to 'retrofit' ecological mitigation or compensation into a design."
The SDA is approximately 309 hectares in size and predominantly under ownership or option by Swindon Borough Council and Taylor Woodrow. Ecosulis ltd has worked closely with both parties, English Nature and other key members of the design team to ensure that the many valuable ecological receptors at the site, such as Great Crested Newts, Water Vole, Badger and bats are fully protected and that their habitats are enhanced. Ecosulis ltd was responsible for undertaking all baseline surveys, impact assessments, biodiversity design, mitigation strategies and management documents throughout the planning stages of the project. We are currently involved in the ecological contracting requirements for the site and are implementing the strategies and management plans through landscape planting, pond enhancement, grassland management, Great Crested Newt mitigation (i.e. pittrapping and fencing), Badger sett creation, reptile relocation and Water Vole exclusion.
The importance of the Good Practice guide lies in its association with Planning Policy Statement 9 and legal requirements set out in The Government Circular: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation - statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system. These documents place greater pressure on developers and landowners to ensure that they have taken into account biodiversity within planning applications before they are submitted. The take home message is that it is no longer acceptable to have 'no net loss' in biodiversity. Planning applications need to demonstrate that they have taken full account of biodiversity and through design is offering 'biodiversity gains'.
Ecosulis ltd are well placed to provide solutions oriented advice to a range of stakeholders in accordance with the requirements of PPS 9, the Circular and the Good Practice Guide. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.