All six reptile species native to the UK receive varying levels of of protection under UK law.
Sand lizard and smooth snake receive full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) due to their status as European Protected Species (EPS); their breeding places and resting sites also have legal protection. These species are very rare and have specialised habitat requirements and geographical locations within the UK.
The other species native to the UK and widespread comprise adder, grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm. These species have partial protection under Schedule 5, Sections 9(1) and 9 (5) only of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This protects species from:
- intentional or reckless killing and injury, and;
- selling, offering for sale, possessing or transporting for the purpose of the sale or publishing advertisements to buy or sell a protected species.
Wren Ecology can offer a reptile presence/absence survey for adder, grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm. The survey will:
- identify presence or absence within the application site;
- record which species are present; and
- determine the site’s reptile species and population size.
The survey is conducted by setting out a pre-determined number of artificial refuges consisting of squares of roofing felt cut into 0.5 x 0.5m sheets, at optimal locations throughout the survey area. Roofing felt has ideal thermal qualities for reptiles as it absorbs heat, which in turn attracts basking reptiles that use the sheets to regulate their temperature or to shelter under.
The sheets are left to ‘bed-in’ for approximately seven to ten days prior to undertaking the survey. Following this period, the survey can then commence. Seven individual survey visits are required during ambient weather conditions to record any species present. It is important to note that the survey visits may be delayed if the weather is sub-optimal for reptile activity i.e. windy or rainy conditions. Survey methodology recommends that visits are made whilst the air temperature is between 9oC and 18oC, with bright sun during cool spells or intermittent sun on warmer days.
To comply with survey methodology, surveys should be carried out during April, May and September and are dependent on climatic conditions.
If reptiles are present within a site that is to be affected by a proposed development, it will be necessary to protect them from any adverse direct or indirect impacts that might arise during the construction phase. Mitigation should also ensure that sufficient and connective habitat of species-optimal quality and quantity is provided post-construction to accommodate the reptile population recorded.
Dependent upon the habitats and assemblage of species present and their populations, mitigation could include the erection of reptile exclusion fencing in conjunction with a phased programme of translocating species within the exclusion zone to a pre-identified receptor site.
Translocation is recommended to be undertaken during the months of April, May and September.
Wren Ecology can offer a pragmatic translocation programme that is tailored to:
- the reptile species and populations present within your application site;
- recommended mitigation; and
- where applicable, relevant planning conditions.