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Protecting wildlife on construction sites

I am carrying out quite a bit of Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) in Chichester at the moment as the weather improves and small projects get underway.

An ECoW is the ecological 'eyes and ears' on a construction site. We work with contractors to ensure that protected species are not in harm's way during construction. This includes hedgehogs, reptiles, nesting birds, and more. Legislation also extends to ubiquitous mammals such as mice, rabbits etc., protected from harm under the Mammals Act 1996.

We need to know what planning conditions are required on a site and ensure these are completed in line with the project programme. We carry out site walkovers, ecological toolbox talks, and provide best practice advice for following mitigation plans.

Sometimes ECoWs are brought in as a condition of planning but sometimes not - last year, Williams Southern Construction Limited got in touch with me to assess a site where they had been digging a small concrete forecourt in West Sussex. Contractors on site had found slow worms beneath the forecourt, and stopped all work immediately. I arrived on site the same day as receiving the phone call and thoroughly inspected the site. Three active slow worms were found in total and moved into an adjacent scrub patch. Luckily, we didn't find any more as it was the beginning of October - the time reptiles start thinking to go into hibernation, although it was still warm.

✅ Works continued with ECoW supervision;

✅ Enhancements included partially-buried log/brash piles to create hibernacula, and leaving "untidy" wild areas on site.

Decisions as an ECoW to protect wildlife on site have to be made quickly, often under high pressure. We have highly-skilled ecologists with bat, GCN, and dormouse licences for species-specific mitigation and I am also happy to offer ECoW work experience when opportunities arise.

Imprint Ecology works closely with clients to provide ecological input into a site, no matter the size, providing practical solutions to protect wildlife during construction phase and enhancing a site long-term for biodiversity.


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