Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a process of identifying and evaluating the potential effects of development on ecology. This process can be applied to a range of projects, from large-scale residential developments where the EcIA forms a chapter in a wider Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to small-scale developments where an EIA is not required. CES has worked on a number of EcIA chapters for the impacts of large developments.
The EcIA process includes:
- Screening (EIA only) – A formal screening opinion may be sought from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine the need for an EIA.
- Scoping – This identifies what needs to be covered in the EcIA. Where an EIA is required, the LPA will provide a scoping opinion which will identify any required habitat and protected species surveys, statutory and non-statutory nature conservation sites which need to be considered, identify any likely significant ecological effects and identify opportunities for avoidance of impacts, mitigation, enhancement and biodiversity net gain. The scoping opinion may also identify other developments in the local area for which the cumulative impacts should be assessed.
- Impact Assessment – The importance of ecological features which are to be affected is determined, potential impacts are identified and characterised based on their extent, duration, reversibility, whether the effect is positive or negative etc. The significant impacts in the absence of mitigation are determined. Measures are formulated to mitigate or compensate for the likely significant impacts on ecological features and identify opportunities for ecological enhancement. The residual effects of the development are then determined, based on the mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures being implemented. Finally, an assessment of cumulative effects of the development with other developments in the local area, and their significance.
CES follows current CIEEM Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK and Ireland (2018). A number of the CES team have undertaken formal EcIA training by CIEEM.
The EcIA report includes ecological baseline data, applicable policy and legislation, the criteria by which ecological features are evaluated and the significance of effects has been determined, justification of the methodology and any limitations to the surveys conducted to inform the EcIA. The report also sets out the mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures and set out any required ecological monitoring. CES produce comprehensive, detailed and concise EcIA reports. The ecological surveys conducted by CES provide comprehensive baseline data to inform the EcIA.