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Hertfordshire County Council

Advice we give

Our ecology team offers specialist advice and guidance to Local Planning Authorities (LPA), organisations and individuals in Hertfordshire. We support a wide range of projects including household proposals and major schemes with:

  • local plans, planning documents and policies
  • planning applications that may affect protected species and habitats
  • biodiversity net gain.

More details on what we consult on

  • Desktop ecological assessments and data searches
  • Time planning around seasonal constraints
  • Various types of ecological surveys, including Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) and Phase 1 and 2 surveys
  • When an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required
  • Mitigation and enhancement opportunities
  • Pre-application and early-stage planning advice



Preparing a planning application

Before you apply

You should complete a biodiversity checklist to help you determine whether an ecological report or survey needs to be included in your application.

Typically, you can find this on each Local Planning Authority's (LPA) website or find it as part of their application process. 

Ecological reports and surveys

You'll likely need to submit an ecological report or survey if:

  • your application meets certain criteria in the local planning authority's (LPA) biodiversity checklist
  • there's a risk of affecting protected species
  • there's a risk of harming biodiversity.


Find a consultant

It's important to choose an experienced ecologist to carry out the ecology surveys and reports. They should have the right knowledge and licenses for the specific habitat and species.

You can find a list of trusted ecologist practices and consultants on the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) website.


Seasonal constraints

Ecological surveys are sometimes constrained by the time of year. For example, if you want to survey great crested newts, it can only be done between mid-March and mid-June.

It's a good idea to consult with experts who can help you figure out which surveys you might need, the best way to do them, and to make sure the surveys are focused on answering the right questions.

Factor in seasonal constraints when planning your timeline to prevent potential delays when submitting your application.

For further information, see how we assess planning applications.


Photographs in an application

Photographs can be very useful in determining if protected species are at risk, so including them is strongly encouraged.

If you do provide photos, focus on key areas such as ponds, gable end edges, bargeboards, fascias external tiles, and accessible loft spaces. These may allow us to conclude that a survey isn't needed, but this isn't always possible. 

Protected sites and species

Protected sites

There are 43 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) across Hertfordshire and they are protected by legal regulations.

You can learn more about protected sites and check if a piece of land is part of an SSSI.


Protected species

Hertfordshire is home to several protected species, including badgers, bats, breeding birds, reptiles and great crested newts. For a complete list of protected species in England, visit

If you suspect the presence of protected species we strongly advise that you find an ecological consultant via the CIEEM directory.

For advice and guidance on what to do if bats are present, visit Bat Conservation Trust (

How we assess planning applications

Visit to read about our process for assessing planning applications when protected species and habitats are present, including:

  • protected species survey dates
  • collaborating with developers on survey needs
  • decision-making on planning applications
  • and more.



Raise an ecological objection or concern

There are various ways to report specific ecological issues or related concerns.

  • Report wildlife crime to Herts Constabulary
  • Report crimes against wild birds to RSPB
  • Report a distressed or abandoned animal to RSPCA
  • Objections to planning applications on ecological grounds should be reported to the relevant planning officer. All necessary details can be found on the council's planning portal.



Contact us

For specialist advice on a project or help with a planning application, you can get in touch with us.


Make a general enquiry


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