Ecological Impact Assessment & Monitoring Services

Blackthorn Ecology provides the full range of Environmental Impact Assessment services, mitigation and monitoring. From site selection to detailed design to construction, we provide our clients with timely advice to ensure developments are environmentally sustainable. Providing thorough impact assessments and robust mitigation will save our clients time and money and allow them to meet their objectives while fulfilling statutory obligations and planning requirements. See our Projects for examples of the breadth and quality of work we do.

Appropriate Assessment

Preparing Natura Impact Statements to inform Appropriate Assessment of potential impacts to Natura 2000 sites is a core service of Blackthorn Ecology. An Appropriate Assessment is a specialist impact assessment carried out to determine if a project or plan will negatively affect the integrity of a Natura 2000 site. Natura 2000 is a network of sites designated as being of European conservation importance under the EU Habitats Directive. In Ireland, these sites are Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas for birds. In accordance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, planning authorities often require applicants to submit a Natura Impact Statement to inform the Appropriate Assessment process where there is the potential for significant negative impacts on a Natura 2000 site.

Appropriate Assessments or Natura Impact Statements can seem like a confusing new requirement for planning. In practice, they aren’t much different from conventional Ecological Impact Assessments, only more tightly focused. Often, these are carried out in parallel with each other. At Blackthorn Ecology, we aim to make the Appropriate Assessment process simple and transparent for our clients. We ensure our Appropriate Assessment work is robust and thorough, so that additional requests for information and costly delays are avoided. We cater for all plans and projects, from single houses to large windfarms.

Ecological Impact Assessment

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is “the process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating the potential impacts of defined actions on ecosystems or their components” (Treeweek, 1999). Ecological Impact Assessment is often carried out as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but can also be carried out as a stand-alone assessment where a smaller project has the potential to impact on sensitive habitats or species.

Blackthorn Ecology carries out all stages of Ecological Impact Assessment, from preliminary constraints assessment to desk and field survey to determining impact significance to mitigation. We produce high quality Ecological Impact Assessments for all terrestrial, wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats and species, supplementing our in-house expertise with that of our close associates where required.

Blackthorn Ecology produces clear and robust Ecological Impact Assessment reports that deal succinctly with the key ecological and project features. We believe in close coordination with our clients at all project stages, as early and accurate information is essential to obtaining planning approval quickly and efficiently.

Mitigation

Blackthorn Ecology specialises in developing innovative and effective measures to mitigate or compensate for environmental impacts. Mitigation measures can be as simple as avoiding impacts in the first place by implementing clear buffer zones around sensitive features. Or they can involve creation of a new wildlife habitat to compensate for one that was lost. See our page on Biodiversity Conservation, Restoration & Management services for more information on habitat creation. Whatever the challenge is, Blackthorn Ecology can work with you to find the most efficient and sustainable solutions as early as possible in the project design.

Monitoring

Monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation is becoming a common condition of planning permission. At Blackthorn Ecology, we have all the expertise needed to monitor ecological mitigation measures for terrestrial and aquatic habitats and species. We carry out monitoring and site supervision during the construction stage, including staff training and preparing construction method statements. We also monitor the post-construction success of ecological mitigation or enhancement works to ensure that measures are sustainable over the long term. We enhance the precision and speed of our monitoring work through extensive use of GIS, GPS and GPS-enabled photography, which allows rapid assessment of ecological changes over time from a digitally fixed location.