The ecological survey is one of the most important that a developer can commission. A poor survey may be rejected by the local planning authority (LPA) and this can result in the client missing the window for protected species surveys. The situation isn't helped by different peple using a range of names for similar surveys, such as a "Walkover Survey", a "Baseline Survey" and "Ecological Scoping Survey". This causes considerable confusion and can make it difficult to compare a quotation from one ecological consultancy with another.

In 2013 The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) published guidelines for the 'Preliminary Ecological Appraisal' (PEA). The aim of these guidelines is to ensure that ecological surveys are undertaken in a prescribed manner and are comparable. A copy of the guidelines can be downloaded here.

The new methodology follows a standard format and includes recommendations for mitigation and an initial impact assessment. A PEA is not a substitute for a full Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) but may be necessary for some developments.

A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal will include the following elements:

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Limitations
  • A desk study
  • A habitat map and target notes
  • An evaluation of ecological features and identification of potential impacts
  • Recommendations for further surveys, general mitigation and possible enhancements
  • A description of whether there is any potential for contravention of any national or international nature conservation legislation
  • Notable habitats and species
  • The planning context
  • References

The Preliminary Ecological Appraisal was introduced in 2013. It is similar to the Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey, but includes recommendations for mitigation and an impact assessment.