Ecological Consultancy

Screening for Appropriate Assessments and Natura Impact Statements

Appropriate Assessment establishes whether a plan or project can be implemented without damaging a Natura 2000 site. This is required under Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. If a council deems your project to be a potential risk to a European designated area, screening for an appropriate assessment is required.

Appropriate Assessments or Natura Impact Statements are the second phase under the Appropriate Assessment protocol as set out under Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. This is an impact assessment of the implications of the plan or project, alone and in combination with other plans and projects, on the integrity of European sites which include Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). Mitigation measures are then created to avoid negative impacts to the European sites.

Appropriate Assessment process is always evolving through new guidance and by case law in Ireland and the Court of Justice of the European Union. We have worked with statutory bodies, large developers and the private sector in delivering all stages of the Appropriate Assessment process. We help bring clarity to the process and deliver the resulting reports in a cost effective, timely manner.

Ecological Impact Assessment

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating potential effects of developments on habitats, species and ecosystems; particularly those protected by national and international legislation or sensitive to impacts. EcIA’s assess the ecological impact of the development (e.g. loss of habitat); the magnitude of the impact (including positive and negative effects); and the significance of these effects. This process also allows for the creation of mitigation measures to avoid, reduce or compensate for any impacts identified.

ID Environmental Consultants provide a full range of surveys, reporting requirements and project management resources for the completion of EcIA’s of any scale. We initially scope the scale of the works and advise on the range and detail of surveys required, providing timelines and cost estimates for all project elements. Our experienced team can undertake consultation with competent authorities and government bodies including NPWS, Bird Watch Ireland and Inland Fisheries Ireland. We always aim for the best outcomes for the environment while remaining client focused.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal

A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal assessment is usually carried out at the early stages in the development of a plan or project. This helps developers and competent authorities to identify possible ecological constraints or sensitivities as they relate to the proposed development. This usually involves:

  • A reviewing of available information and mapping data
  • Site walkover surveys
  • Consulting with relevant public authorities
  • Providing guidance of further surveys and reports that may be required

Through Preliminary Ecological Appraisal ID Environmental Consultants can help ensure that projects are adequately scoped, allowing our clients to work with confidence within the environmental legislation.

Habitat & Flora Surveys

Habitat surveys and botanical surveys aim to capture the range and distribution of habitats and flora within your project area. Assessing the sensitivity and conservation significance of habitats is key to ensuring our most vulnerable habitats and plant species are protected.

We provide habitat and floral surveys along with GIS mapping. We help our clients identify if any rare or protected species or habitat types are present on their sites. Then address how best to manage, conserve and enhance these species and ecosystems.

Where detailed botanical surveys are required we work with experienced specialist botanists to carry out assessments and provide guidance on the management and conservation of important semi-natural features.

Bat Surveys

All bat species are protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act 1976. It is an offence to intentionally disturb, injure or kill a bat or disturb its resting place. Any work on a roost must be carried out with the advice of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. If a development has potential to disturb a bat roost or bat feeding habitat, a planning authority may ask for a bat survey to be carried out. Projects where potential impacts to bats are most likely to occur include:

  • The demolition or alteration of buildings or roof structures
  • Felling of mature trees that contain crevices or holes
  • Works on bridges or other masonry structures
  • The installation of lighting particularly around water courses, hedgerows and previously dark areas.

ID Environmental Consultants provide a range of bat assessment services. We can carry out bat roosting potential surveys along with detailed site specific bat surveys and mitigation planning. We work with a range of bat experts who specialise in:

  • Emergence dawn and dusk surveys
  • Building inspections for bat roosts and;
  • Remote surveys using static Bioacoustic recorders and;
  • Applying for derogation licences and carry out exclusions.

We can provide detailed impact mitigation plans, design artificial roosts and advise on appropriate lighting and compensation areas. We can also use our understanding of regenerative agricultural and habitat creation to provide plans and advice to actively promote bat activity on farms, in gardens or in urban areas.

Mammal Surveys

Assessing the presence, abundance and territory of mammals is key to ensuring projects do not impact upon the conservation status of our protected mammal species. ID Environmental Consultants can advise on the legal status of particular species and develop suitable mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate impacts to that species. We have a detailed understanding of mammal behaviours, tracking and surveying and can help create custom mammal mitigation measures including artificial refugia, habitats and mammal proof barriers.

Our ecologists have conducted mammal surveys and created mammal mitigations plans for major infrastructural developments including roadways, housing projects, power infrastructure projects and wind farm developments.

Freshwater Ecology

Through the Water Framework Directive, the protection and restoration of freshwater bodies has become a legal requirement for competent authorities. Many of our fresh water ecosystems are also important for habitats and species that come under the Habitats and Birds Directives.
ID Environmental Consultants work with a range of specialists in fisheries and aquatic ecological assessments. We can provide one-off protected species surveys, biological water quality surveys or long-term water quality monitoring.

  • Classification of Water Framework Directive surface water status through sampling and analysis of macroinvertebrate, macrophyte, phytoplankton and phytobenthos
  • River Habitats Surveys
  • Biological water quality assessments (Q-values)
  • Electro Fishing provided by fully licenced operators
  • Surveys of freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifiera margaritifiera and white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes.
  • Fishery potential surveys
  • Fisheries habitats enhancement surveys

Bird Surveys

Almost all Irish birds are afforded protection under Irish and European legislation. ID Environmental Consultants provide a range of bird surveys and ornithological impact assessments. We partner with professional and experienced ornithologists to deliver bird surveys for large infrastructural projects including wind farm developments, road projects and upland developments.

Our services include:

  • Vantage point surveys
  • Breeding bird surveys
  • Raptor surveys
  • Bird census surveys and territory mapping
  • Coastal and wading bird surveys
  • Annual site monitoring and;
  • Wintering bird surveys
  • Invasive Species Surveys and Management Planning

    Invasive species are non-native species whose presence in the country can adversely impact upon ecology, the environment and infrastructure.

    Ireland is a signatory to a number of international treaties and conventions that require us to address issues of invasive alien species. Under the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000 the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, if an invasive species, listed in Schedule 3 of the 2011 Regulations, has been identified on a works site it is not an option to do nothing, some action must be taken to address the invasive species in order to comply with environmental legislation.

    We undertake invasive species surveys where we record species, map their distribution and density and outline the adverse significance of the invasive species problem. An invasive species management plan can then be created along with a treatment schedule implemented by licenced herbicide users.

    Audio Mapping and Soundscaping

    AudioMoths are acoustic loggers capable of recording the full-spectrum of audible frequencies including ultrasonic frequencies. The soundscape is the audio equivalent of a landscape. It can be divided into three categories; the biophony which is the portion attributed to animal sounds such as bird calls, amphibians etc.; the geophony describing the sounds of nature in the geological world like ice cracking, rain and wind; and lastly the anthrophony which describes the sound caused by humans such as talking, beeping a horn, driving a car etc. Audio Mapping and Soundscaping uses bioacoustic indices to represent species diversity or relative abundance. ID Environmental Consultants can deploy and interpolate Audiomoth data for the assessment of birds, bats, amphibians and some invertebrate species. This new and exciting technology can accurately quantify biodiversity or changes in species composition over large areas cheaply and efficiently.

    Soundscaping is also excellent for: 

    • Research Projects
    • Long-term studies
    • Community and extension projects
    • Baseline biodiversity surveys and;
    • Eco-tourism and forest bathing.

    Mapping and Remote Sensing

    ID Environmental Consultants can provide a range of high-resolution maps and aerial imagery with all our ecological reports. These thematic and user-friendly maps help bring clarity to detailed reports and support the implementation of management plans.

    We can provide detailed drone surveys to help clients design and cost the construction of roadways, wetlands, walkways, orchards, paddock layouts or map stands of invasive species.

    Geological Information Systems (GIS) helps provide visualisation and data management solutions that allows us to visualise and analyse landscapes, ecological features and environmental constraints.

    Drone surveying has become the most effective and cost efficient method for landscape scale analysis, imagery capture and monitoring. We provide a range of drone surveying services and data analysis through operators fully licenced by the Irish Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Authority. Aerial surveying has advantages regarding the speed of delivery compared to traditional methods, particularly for inaccessible areas such as steep slopes, landfills, areas with thick vegetation cover and quarries.

    Drone based outputs we can provide include:

    Orthographic Aerial Imagery / Ortho Photo: This output consists of a geometrically corrected aerial image. It can be used as a high resolution image of an area, to measure change and to accurately measure distance. CAD / design overlays can be created to show design information on existing conditions.

    Multispectral Imaging: Multispectral cameras work by imaging different wavelengths of light. This output captures images across a range of regions of the electromagnetic spectrum allowing the capture of both visible and invisible images of light that vegetation and surfaces emit. A Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is used to determine plant health. Fundamentally it is a measure of ‘greenness’ of plants, which indicates the level of photosynthesis at the time of image capture. These are becoming increasingly popular for assessing the health of crops and ecosystems.

    Videographic Drone flyovers: These videos are captured to give a detailed aerial view of the survey area. These are useful for site visualisation and excellent for social media and project promotion.

    Drone Topographical Surveys and Digital Elevation Modelling: This output can be used to estimate quantities of materials to be excavated or moved, for determining site layout planning and for hydrological modelling. Outputs are similar to traditional topographical surveys.

    Do you need an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report?

    If a council deems your project to be a potential risk to a European designated area, screening for an appropriate assessment is required.

    Get in contact with ID Environmental Consultants today.