Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ecological Survey and Ecological Consultancy - Get Ecology Right the First Time

The newt and knotweed factor is endured by all sectors of the industry, and evokes visions of lengthy project delays, sliding expenditure and wide spread developer frustration - Help is at hand and the key lies in knowing the right ecological survey you need, using the right ecologist or ecological consultants, and involving specialist ecological contractor and early.
The issue of responsibility in relation to delivering ecological and invasive weed treatment measures now lies firmly with the developer; and failing to establish how to efficiently and cost effectively meet these requirements often leaves projects exposed to major impacts - know the ecology survey you need and speed the process along, delay the ecological survey and risk paying the price.
As soon as project is known to be affected by ecological or invasive weed issues, take action - get hold of a quality ecological consultant who can advise the ecology survey you need and involve a specialist ecological contractor. Even with foreseeable start dates years into the future, advice from these ecologists and contractors now will save days, weeks and years in project delays, see costs reduced and projects move forward. More over, specialist ecological and invasive weed contractors will explain your options, giving realistic budgetary costs for consideration, whilst indicating likely timescales required to complete the work - its is vital a developer knows exactly what they are up against.
One common frustration among developers is the fact that no amount of money will solve this problem over night; ecological surveys and mitigation can only be carried out at specific times of year and missing an ecological survey deadline by a week can see a multi-million pound project shelved for 6 months - it is here that ecological impacts bite hardest.
As the industry takes action to restructure land asset portfolios and we see project deferrals soar, on site ecological and invasive weed issues are quietly continuing to thrive. Have the right ecological survey completed is always worth while. We now see strategic sites being retained for future development and high risk assets shed; in both instances dealing with ecological and invasive weed issues now is always financially beneficial - an ecological surveys are part and parcel of planning and a good ecologist will make sure the survey is completed.
Invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed can grow up to 10cm a day; and if it is envisaged that an infested site is to be 'cold stored' until the economic fog rises, developers could find themselves with almost daily increases in the cost of dealing with the problem. Having an ecological survey or habitat phase 1 survey will identify these potential problems. Compounding the issue is the fact that the most cost effective solution to eradicating invasive weeds on site, takes the longest time to implement, 'in situ' herbicidal treatment requires at least one growing season to be affective - get the ecological survey habitat survey done and start now!
The benefits are felt two-fold by developers who tackle knotweed now; one, the cost of herbicidal treatment over a growing season can be 10% of more instant 'dig and dump' options, and two, by the time the construction phase of the project comes about the site will be construction ready.
Specialist contractors are an extremely useful source of practical advice, and can ensure a site free from ecological issues or invasive weeds remains unaffected. They will complete ecological surveys in a timely way as well as scope the site to identify potential issues caused by; fly tipping, vehicle tracks, shrub and vegetation growth is enough to provide potential habitats for species like badgers and birds and may even introduce invasive weeds onto site - site vegetation management should be vital consideration and a ecological survey will highlight this.
Involving these contractors in the preparation of land parcels for sale is also extremely financially beneficial, particularly given the current land market, knowing your risk with ecological survey data will help. On many sites even a minimal investment in dealing with these issues will prove extremely cost effective, seeing; reduced negotiation, increased selling prices and catalysed land sale. Often simply starting a weed eradication programme or taking the first steps to survey ecological issues is enough to reduce selling time and negotiations.
Early ecological surveys and specialist contractor involvement is one step that will guarantee a developer understands the full impact ecological and invasive weed issues from the outset; meaning all costs are budgeted, phasing is seamless and delivery becomes more cost effective - act now, get and ecological survey and reap the rewards.
James Tyers, Marketing Director of Three Shires Ltd and Manager of Herpetosure Ltd