Monday, March 03, 2008

New wildlife legislation for contruction sites

Last year saw significant changes to the Habits Regulations. European protected species (EPS) saw that the most commonly encountered species on construction sites included bats, otters, dormice and great crested newts. It is an offense to damage or destroy the 'breeding site' or 'resting place' of an EPS even if the species are not there but there is a high probability they will return. The contractor could be prosecuted even if the damages occur accidentally.

When it is reasonably likely that an EPS offence will occur, a license must be obtained after planning permission has been granded and before construction work starts. A 'method statement' will accompany the application and normally is drafted by the consultant ecologist. Before a license can be granted a number of legal tests need to be satisfied. The operation must be needed "for imperative reasons of over riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature. Evidence and analysis is needed to satisfy these tests, which will usually require imput from a lawyer or economic expert. The maximum penalty for the main EPS offence''s is not £5,000 and/or six month custodial sentance.

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