Some frequently asked questions about wildlife on construction and development projects.
Why should wildlife be a concern?
Firstly, for legal reasons. If you break the law, fines, other costs, and a possible prison sentence may result. Secondly, environmental issues are the most common cause of delays in obtaining permission for development projects and therefore it is important to get an ecological consultant involved in the planning process as early as possible. Wildlife legislation aims to ensure that the animals themselves, their breeding sites and resting places are not harmed. This is particularly
important for developers because Planning Authorities have to take account of protected species before they make a decision on your application. In addition, non-compliance to wildlife legislation leads to commercial impacts through bad publicity and a poor within-industry reputation.
How do I know if there are protected species on my site?
Some protected species are widespread in Ireland and can be found in many development sites. The kind of land or building that you plan to develop gives clues to whether it might be used by protected species. For example, buildings, bridges, tunnels and mature trees may support roosting bats. Not all protected species live in the countryside, some can be found in built-up areas. For example, otters often live on waterways running through some of our major cities. A pre-planning consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service can provide details of what specific information is required to ensure the application complies with wildlife legislation.
What are the implications for my development if there are protected species on site?
If your site has potential to support protected species, you should have it surveyed by a suitably qualified ecologist. Many protected species are elusive and this makes them difficult to find, so it is essential that surveys are undertaken at the optimum time of year and using a recognised methodology. The presence of protected species does not necessarily prevent your development being approved by the planning authority, however, you must demonstrate how you intend to avoid harming those species and minimising the impacts. This can be achieved by incorporating mitigation, compensation and/or enhancement measures into the final scheme design.
When do surveys need to be carried out?
It is important that you find out as soon as possible if you have any protected species on your site. Surveys need to be planned ahead because many animals have seasonal movements or breeding times. If you leave it too late you may have to wait until the next season to obtain accurate results. If you commission surveys at the wrong time of year, the data collected may be inadequate and can be dismissed by the planning authority, leading to delays and requirement that the surveys be repeated. This could hold up the assessment of your application. Optimum survey times vary from species to species. Please contact us for more information.