Ecological Clerk of Works

Seth checking for water voles

Seth checking for water voles

Planning conditions are frequently issued requiring on-site ecological supervision during the construction phase of a development. Often this is delivered through a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP). This is to ensure wildlife impacts are avoided or minimised and that biodiversity enhancements are secured. This role is usually carried out by an Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW). 

All WFE’s ecologists are CSCS certified.

WFE’s ecologists work with developers and alongside contractors to provide accurate advice and pragmatic solutions that ensure the planning conditions are discharged efficiently. We proactively advise on relevant wildlife legislation in relation to construction activities, thus minimising risks of delays to the project.

An ECoW may be required to carry out various tasks including:

  • Pre-construction checks to confirm baseline conditions for sensitive habitats and protected species, including nesting bird checks, badger and water vole surveys.
  • Writing and implementing CEMPs.
  • Providing a Tool Box Talk for site staff.
  • Providing an ecological watching brief for prescribed works – such as supervising topsoil removal, vegetation clearance and building demolition.
  • Producing best practice advice to minimise construction activities impacts.
  • Applying for relevant mitigation licences.
  • Implementing mitigation such as reptile and amphibian handling and relocation, habitat creation, and destructive searches.

Project Examples

Graham watching turf stripping

Graham watching turf stripping

WFE provided ECoW on a 9 turbine windfarm site in Essex. The ECoW works involved pre-construction surveys for breeding and wintering birds, badgers, water voles and reptiles. The turbines were delivered to the site by barge and tracks from the marine landing were upgraded. The site of the windfarm is arable fields with drainage ditches. These were crossed by new and upgraded access tracks. As ECoW for the project, WFE oversaw the implementation of habitat management via vegetation clearance to deter water voles and reptiles from ditch crossing points and on the sea wall near the marine landing. We also oversaw the demarcation of buffers around key features and the execution of mitigation strategies for badger, water voles and reptiles. As the site was near an SPA, observations on brent geese were conducted during the delivery of the turbines, with the potential to modify the deliveries to prevent any disturbance. All works were completed on site and the wind farm is operating. WFE are now involved in post-construction monitoring of the development.

Common lizard at Mildenhall

WFE provided an ECoW to oversee the extension of Mildenhall Household Waste Recycling Centre. Following pre-construction surveys, which found a small population of common lizards, carefully timed clearance of vegetation was advised to ensure minimal impacts to breeding birds and reptile species. Prior to clearance works a suitably qualified ECoW walked over the site and confirmed that no birds were nesting. Vegetation was then cut to ground level under ECoW supervision and maintained at a low height to discourage common lizards and other terrestrial animal species from using the area.  

The ECoW was present on site whilst the ground layer was stripped and tree stumps removed. The remaining common lizards were successfully translocated by hand away from the worked area.