Essex Biodiversity Project
Timing of Surveys
Planning your surveys
The timing of surveys for species and habitats can be very critical, and a balance has to be struck between surveying at a time of year when a species can be found, whilst not causing harmful disturbance to it, particularly for animals. Many species have legal protection against disturbance, and a license is required from Natural England for surveying them.
For some critical species, such as Water Vole, Great Crested Newts and reptiles there are windows of opportunity for survey work, whilst such surveys are impossible at other times of year. The following provides a brief summary of timing considerations:
Great Crested Newts - surveys of breeding ponds between March and May, inclusive.
Reptiles - ideally April/May or September, with the intervening summer months being sub-optimal.
Water Voles - searching for signs of activity during the breeding season, late April to September.
Bats - where bats occur it will be necessary to undertake survey visits throughout the summer months from May to August.
All of the above surveys require a series of visits spaced out over several weeks, so results cannot be instantaneous. Assessments of vegetation can take place between April and September, although the likely quality of a site can be approximated at any time of year.
Whatever the survey requirements, if a survey is being conducted as part of the process of making a planning application for some form of development, we stress the desirability of undertaking survey work as soon as possible within the planning process, to give the maximum amount of time to decide upon and implement any necessary mitigation work based on the results of the survey. The Planning section of this website contains our detailed guide "Integrating Biodiversity into Development" with much more information.
Protected species information
Natural England's website has a comprehensive section on wildlife management and licensing at