What to do if you find a stag beetle

During work, tree surgeons ( especially while removing decaying tree stump) sometime find large black beetles. They may be concerned that they are Greater Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus and want to know what action to take to protect them.

Greater Stag Beetles are protected against sale in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and are also a Priority Species under the NERC Act and an Annex II European Species.  They do occur in Norfolk, but are much commoner futher south in Ipswich and Suffolk.

Often though they will be stag beetles but the easily confused Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus , which is more widely distributed.

Lesser stag beetle Lucanus cervus

Decaying wood is important to all mini-beasts, especially in the “tidier” urban areas like Norwich.  An easy approach if possible is to reduce any stump in large sections and re-sited somewhere safer (something the lesser stag beetle colony will appreciate).

If you do find any text a photograph to us and we are happy to identify for you and let you know what to do.

We are also happy to carry out full invertebrate surveys of sites and make recommendations for managing them for charismatic stag beetles.

What is a Habitat Regulations Assessment?

The UK’s international obligations to biodiversity require our rarest and most irreplaceable wildlife sites – those of international importance – to be stringently protected. This includes sites protected for their habitats and species (Special Areas of Conservation, “SACs”), bird populations (Special Protection Areas, “SPAs”) and wetlands (Ramsar sites).

To meet the UK international commitments means preserving these sites except in cases of overriding national need, so evidence provided must be “beyond all reasonable doubt” of no harm; otherwise permission can be refused under the so-called “precautionary principle”. Where this evidence is absent, the usual National Planning Policy Framework para 14 presumption in favour of development no longer applies and is replaced by para 119.

Where development plans or policies do potentially affect these sites, the effects are considered via a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA). An HRA involves screening, scoping and consideration of alternatives – similar to an Environmental Impact Assessment. However, an HRA focuses tightly upon the “integrity” of the site – those features for which the site is designated.

Norfolk Wildlife Services (NWS) has a long track record of dealing with HRAs: as a county Norfolk 8.5% is designated SPA, 5% SACs and 4.2% Ramsar. Within HRAs we often consider hydrology, emissions and recreational disturbance and cumulative and in-combination effects.


Responsibility to complete the HRA rests with the “competent authority” – either the planning authority or the inspector. Ecological effects on international sites are a complex area and frequent showstoppers for developers since the responsibility is on the applicant to provide the proof.

Evidence supplied via a “shadow” HRA supplied by NWS is often used to assist these decisions. Altering site design later is often difficult later on so early advice from NWS is advisable to fully understand the options and whether effects can be avoided.

Construction Environmental Management Plans

Recently at NWS we have found ourselves writing more and more
Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP).

We’re often asked “what is a CEMP, what does it cover and how Wondering about CEMPwill I know when if my project needs one?”

Well, wonder know more……


What is CEMP?

CEMP = Construction Environmental Management Plan

The purpose of a CEMP is to outline how a construction project will avoid, minimise or mitigate effects on the environment and surrounding area. Local planning authorities have an important role to play in overseeing the implementation of an appropriate CEMP.  This includes powers to enforce conditions during the planning process and to prosecute if any criminal offences occur.

When do you need a CEMP?

© Copyright Evelyn Simak

For small projects a method statement setting out specific restrictions and controls is often adequate to safeguard biodiversity interests. However, for larger and/or more complex developments the preparation and implementation of a CEMP is considered as most appropriate.

As suggested above, the planning authority may condition the need for a CEMP to be submitted before construction can begin. However, it is good practice to have one in place before this stage, so contact NWS if you are unsure and we can advise on the best way forward.

What information is included in a CEMP?

The CEMP sets out all necessary practical measures to ensure that biodiversity features are protected during construction and development implementation.

A CEMP is tailored to each specific site but all cover the same principles:

  • Risk assessment of potentially damaging construction-type activities
  • Identification of biodiversity protection zones
  • Identification of practical measures to avoid impacts during development.  This includes the use of exclusion fences, protective barriers and warning signs
  • The location and timing of sensitive works to avoid harm to biodiversity features
  • The times during construction when particular specialists (e.g. an ecologist) need to be present on site to oversee works as well as an overall view on responsible persons and lines of communication.

We follow the guidance in the British Standard 42020:2013 when compiling our CEMP documentation so our clients are assured that everything relevant is covered.

If you have any questions or require a CEMP of your own do let us know.

Happy dog, happy wildlife

Dog walking can be one of the best ways to get people out and about experiencing nature but our faithful hounds and our beloved wildlife often have conflicting needs, making it difficult to create green spaces suitable for both. Follow these top five tips to plan a greenspace that will result in happy dogs, and happy wildlife:

Happy dog, happy wildlife

Emily and Stig (the world’s first water vole detection dog) enjoying a dog walk and experiencing nature.

  1.  Provide areas of enclosed greenspace. Offering safe areas for dogs to run off-lead makes dog-owners more likely to respect on-lead areas.
  2. Create a circular dog walking route, with clear, defined paths. Obvious paths will encourage dog walkers to stick to a set route meaning they are less likely to disturb more valuable wildlife areas.
  3. Ensure these areas and routes are within 500m of new homes. Placing suitable areas within walking distance will deter owners from driving to areas further-a-field that they perceive to be suitable greenspace.
  4. A range of all-weather surfaces with a naturalistic feel will guarantee dog walkers consistent access without having to invest in walking boots.
  5. Construct an area of clean water with safe access for dogs. Providing an assigned ‘splash-about’ area will keep dogs out of water which contains sensitive wildlife.

If you’d like more advice on planning for wildlife and dogs, Hampshire County Council have produced a wonderful document: Planning for dog ownership in new developments: reducing conflict – adding value.

Stig, pictured is the world’s first water vole detection dog. He is trained in the art of water vole poo detection. To find out more about Stig, his partner in training Lola, and their handler Ali, visit Ecology Dogs. Alternatively, keep regularly up-to-date with their water vole finds by following @EcologyDogs on Twitter.



Schedule 9 invasive plants and development

Schedule 9 plants are invasive and generally need controlling on a development site. After talking to a client about yellow archangel, we thought a list of schedule 9 would be helpful. It is an offence to “plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild invasive non-native plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.”

A lot of the most invasive are aquatic or live in marshy environments e.g. Crassula helmsii, but brownfield sites also harbour species such as knotweed.  We can advise on control methods to incorporate into construction management for you.

Plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales

Common Name Latin Name  
Elodea (waterweeds) eg Canadian waterweed Elodea Canadensis All species of the Elodea genus Aquatic – widespread in Norfolk
Curly waterweed Lagarosiphon major Aquatic
Duck potato Sagittaria latifolia Aquatic
Entire-leaved cotoneaster Cotoneaster integrifolius Garden escape
Knotweed Fallopia japonica x Fallopia sachalinensis (a hybrid knotweed) Brownfield sites
False Virginia creeper Parthenocissus inserta Garden escape
Fanwort (Carolina water-shield) Cabomba caroliniana Aquatic
Few-flowered leek Allium paradoxum
Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides Aquatic – highly invasive
Floating water primrose Ludwigia peploides Aquatic
Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum Fairly commonly encountered
Giant knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis Brownfield sites
Giant rhubarb Gunnera tinctoria Too cold in Norfolk
Giant salvinia Salvinia molesta Aquatic
Green seafingers Codium fragile
Himalayan cotoneaster Cotoneaster simonsii
Hollyberry cotoneaster Cotoneaster bullatus
Hottentot-fig Carpobrotus edulis Too cold in Norfolk
Indian balsam Himalayan balsam Impatiens glandulifera Water courses and rivers
Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica Brownfield sites
Japanese rose Rosa rugosa
Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora
New Zealand pigmyweed (Australian swamp-stonecrop) Crassula helmsii Aquatic – highly invasive in Norfolk
Parrot’s-feather Myriophyllum aquaticum Aquatic
Perfoliate Alexanders Smyrnium perfoliatum
Purple dewplant Disphyma crassifolium
Red algae Grateloupia luxurians
Rhododendron Rhododendron ponticum Acid soils only
Rhododendron Rhododendron ponticum x Rhododendron maximum Acid soils only
Small-leaved cotoneaster Cotoneaster microphyllus Garden escape
Shallon Gaultheria shallon
Three-cornered garlic Allium triquetrum Too cold in Norfolk ?
Variegated yellow archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum Garden escape
Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia Garden escape
Water fern Azolla filiculoides Aquatic
Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes Aquatic
Water lettuce Pistia stratiotes Aquatic
Water primrose Ludwigia grandiflora / Ludwigia uruguayensis Aquatic
Yellow azalea Rhododendron luteum Acid soils only

What does NPPF say about ecology or wildlife ?

National Planning and Policy Framework has quite extensive consideration of ecology and wildlife, including the need for a landscape scale approach to planning and for wildlife gain during development.  We find it quite a big document to download, so the following are the relevant extracts from the National Planning and Policy Framework. We have added in titles for ease of navigation. Continue reading