EECOS has worked on a diverse range of projects in recent years ranging from bat surveys, reptile mitigation and initial Preliminary Ecological Assessments to securing European Protected Species Licences, larger multi-disciplinary ecological services and drawing up Management Plans for nature reserves. This page presents some examples of projects in which we have been involved recently.
EECOS carried out an ecological assessment of Boxted Mill on behalf of Farm Power Generation Limited. The survey was intended to assess the potential impacts on protected species or otherwise significant wildlife and habitats arising from the development of an Archimides screw hydro-electric generator on the River Stour at Boxted Mill. A particular focus was Otters, Water Voles, White-clawed Crayfish and bats; no impacts are anticipated due to the nature and location of the works. The proposals include enhancement measures to improve the passage for fish by installing eel brushes on the existing sluice and by installing an easement within the weir inlet to the bypass channel, Boxted Old River.
“A very comprehensive piece of work, I am very impressed. Thank you for getting on the case so quickly.” Mark Simon, Farm Power Generation
With work on a new nursery building at Chafford Hundred Primary School underway, Badgers took advantage of a delay in the installation of foundations to excavate a new sett. EECOS carried out surveys to determine the occupation of the sett and its relationship with others in the surrounding area. With this information we were able to secure a licence from Natural England with a minimal delay to the project. One way gates were fitted to the sett and after the required exclusion period the sett was destroyed.
“EECOS were responsive, flexible and managed the whole process through to a successful completion. Thurrock Council couldn't have received better service.” Daniel Petto, Mace Group
Essex and Suffolk Water are installing a new pipeline between two of their sites in Suffolk, to improve the reliability of water supply to their customers. Although EECOS had already carried out a comprehensive programme of ecological surveys, a last minute route change required surveys at short notice of an additional 12 hedgerow sections that would be crossed by the pipe. EECOS carried out an assessment of the hedges against the Wildlife and Landscape criteria set out in the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, to determine whether or not any of them were “important” in the terms of the Regulations. The survey methodology involves recording the numbers of woody species in up to three 30 metre sections of each hedgerow, depending on their overall length, together with other notable features of their structure and species composition. Our report provided details of the results with recommendations for action.
“Thanks for the Hedgerow Regs assessment and for doing the work at such short notice. Great report.” Alex Mueller, Essex and Suffolk Water Conservation Advisor.
EECOS has worked closely with Essex Wildlife Trust on many projects including management plans, Ecological Impact Assessments, and protected species and habitat surveys. As part of mitigation under a Natural England license for lowland heathland restoration work being carried out in their Backwarden Nature Reserve, a programme to monitor any changes in the population of Great Crested Newt in an adjacent pond is being carried out each year by EECOS. The primary objective of the monitoring project is to ensure that conservation works enhance and do not adversely affect the aquatic or terrestrial habitat so that the pond continues to support a healthy population of this protected species.
As part of a long term habitat creation and enhancement project being undertaken on the Woodland Trust’s largest site in north Essex, EECOS has been involved with various habitat and projects. These have included botanical surveys using National Vegetation Classification (NVC) and quadrat frequency analysis to assess the development of grassland habitats under a range of different establishment and management techniques. EECOS has also developed a programme of bat activity monitoring to record the effect of woodland planting, and other habitat enhancements on population levels.
EECOS has recently completed a survey of wintering waterfowl activity on the River Crouch to determine the effects of winter occupancy at the Hayes Farm Caravan Park. Monthly counts were carried out during the key period (December to February), with the distribution of all species mapped at hourly intervals between low tide and high tide. Analysis of the results in relation to the species for which the estuary is important at a national and international level allowed the impact of the caravan park’s use to be determined in comparison with adjoining stretches of river and levels of background disturbance on the estuary as a whole.
The Naze cliffs in north-east Essex comprise Red Crag of the early Pleistocene (Waltonian) period over London Clay at the base with a shallow layer of glacial sands and gravels above the Red Crag. Soft cliffs such as these are an unusual geological feature and habitat type in Essex and recognised in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan within the Maritime Cliffs and Slopes Priority Habitat, and the Naze cliffs are the best example in the county. EECOS was engaged to undertake a suite of ecological studies on the undercliff at Walton-on-the-Naze to to determine the impact of the construction of the ‘Crag Walk’, a protective bund that allows for improved access to the geological interest exhibited by the cliffs. Spring time amphibian surveys in temporary pools were an interesting challenge, with quick sand and loose cliff faces adding to the normal hazards of this night time work. This was followed by reptile studies and an invertebrate survey that yielded species new to the county and a number of national rarities, associated with seepage runs, damp bare sand and open sandy cliff faces. The assessment work fed recommendations into a site management plan to ensure that the value of the cliffs will be maintained in the future.
In November 2012, EECOS was engaged by Braintree District Council to compile a management plan for an area of Open space within Braintree town, comprising Marshall’s Park and Hoppit’s Mead, an area of wet woodland and spring-fed sedge beds. The aim of the plan was to integrate the considerable ecological value of the wetland habitats with the surrounding amenity land, thereby creating a site that was of value and interest to local residents with the ultimate aim to declare the site a Local Nature Reserve (LNR). An important consideration within the Plan was to engage the public with the work of John Ray, a forefather of natural history study in Britain who studied many sites around Braintree, including reference to Hoppit Mead itself.
During the winter of 2012/13, EECOS gathered natural history data, including engagement with local naturalists and other key stakeholders and assessed the social values of the site. A Consultation Draft plan was produced and was used as the focus of a very popular public engagement event held at the site in June 2013. The positive feedback from this event is spurring on the creation of a local volunteer group to assist Braintree Council staff in promoting and enhancing the site as a recreational, educational and nature conservation resource. In April 2014, EECOS Senior Ecologist Adrian Knowles, author of the management plan, was happy to attend a commemorative tree planting event to mark the formal declaration of Hoppit Mead as a Local Nature Reserve.
The Witham River Walk is unique in Essex in providing a semi-natural green corridor which runs through the entire town; it supports a mosaic of various habitat types - semi-improved grassland, sedge beds, nettle beds, tall swamp and ruderal vegetation, scrub, woodland, pond and river corridor habitats - and contains two Local Wildlife Sites, designated for the extensive sedge beds and floodplain grassland. EECOS were commissioned by Witham Town Council to write a Management Plan for the site, to promote wildlife sensitive management whilst considering the needs of visitors. Several survey visits were made and various species surveys, including a botanical assessment and surveys for reptiles and Water Voles, were carried out. The Management Plan has been in active use throughout the latter part of 2011.
“Witham Town Council was delighted with the quality of the Witham River Walk Management Plan, and is actively working in conjunction with EECOS and the Essex Wildlife Trust to bring many parts of the Plan to fruition for the benefit of all those who enjoy the River Walk.” Witham Town Council