Project Description

Summary

Acorn Ecology carried out initial ecological surveys on behalf of Green Hedge to identify ecological constraints to a solar farm development in Gloucestershire. The initial survey and further protected species surveys confirmed the presence of badgers and bats on site, and great crested newts (GCN) within the surrounding habitat.

Our Client

Green Hedge

Proposed Development

The proposed development was for the construction of a 4MW grid connected solar farm, located over two fields and covering an area of 11.2 ha. This required the removal of a 5 m section of hedgerow.

Before

Equipment

After

Scope of Ecological Works

Acorn Ecology were involved with this project since the start of the design phase and provided ecological advice regarding a range of issues. A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal was carried out, which identified the need for further survey work for water voles, great crested newts (GCN), bats and badgers.

Great Crested Newts

One pond on site and two ponds close to the site were surveyed for great crested newts. Water samples were collected to be used for environmental DNA (eDNA) testing. Traditional sampling methods were also used, including bottle trapping and checking for eggs.

Although the pond on site looked suitable for GCN, the eDNA result confirmed GCN were absent and therefore no further surveys were needed for this pond. A population of GCN were found in one pond within 500 m of the site, however it was considered that they were unlikely to be present within the development site, due to lack of suitable connecting habitat. Therefore a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) was not necessary, and the works could be carried out under a Method Statement. The use of eDNA sampling saved time and money for the client.

Bats

Bats use linear features such as hedgerows for commuting and also for foraging. Static detectors were deployed along the section of hedge to be removed, and were left in place for several nights to record any bat calls.

At least seven species of bat were recorded using the site, and the section of hedgerow to be removed was found to be a key commuting route for bats. Existing gaps in the hedgerow were re-planted with native species to mitigate for the removal of the 5 m section.

Outcome

Existing gaps in the hedgerow were re-planted using native species, allowing the removal of the 5 m section of the hedge. Planning permission was granted.

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