Protected Species

Protected Species

There are several hundred species of animals and plants that are afforded legal protection in the UK, although only a few of these species are regularly encountered.

We undertake surveys and assessments for bats, great crested newts, hazel dormouse, badgers, water voles, otters, common reptiles, white-clawed crayfish, barn owls, and breeding birds. We can advise on the level of survey needed, the methods involved, and the timing implications.

Please ask us if you require surveys for a species not listed as we should be able to assist or involve a specialist. Our staff hold survey licences for bats, great created newts, white-clawed crayfish, barn owl, and hazel dormouse.

We also undertake surveys and assessments for Priority species, such as brown hare and harvest mouse, as well as specialist groups of terrestrial invertebrates.

Need more information on our services, please get in touch.


There are 18 species of bat in the UK and each species has its own requirements for roosting and foraging. Some prefer to roost in trees, whilst many depend upon built structures for roosting, including homes, farm buildings, factories, churches and bridges.

Considering bats early on in development and restoration schemes enables roosts to be located and characterised and mitigation and compensation, including replacement roosting provision to be designed. This often goes hand-in-hand with statutory licensing.


The more common species of reptile can be encountered in a wide range of development projects and habitats, from urban areas to moorland.

Reptile work is highly seasonal and has relatively short survey periods: surveys are usually undertaken in early spring (between April and June) or in September. As surveys need to be carried out in good conditions, they can be constrained by adverse weather. Consideration of reptiles early in the development process can help counter any potential survey delays caused by weather conditions.

Great Crested Newt

The great crested newt is particularly prevalent in parts of the English West Midlands and the north-west and in North Wales and is afforded full legal protection.

Traditional survey methods are constrained by the season, undertaken between March and June when the adults return to waterbodies to breed.

Establishing whether a pond is used by great crested newts has taken a leap forward in recent years with the advent and commercial availability of environmental DNA (eDNA) testing. This involves visiting waterbodies between April and June to collect water samples that are then analysed for the presence of newt eDNA.

Developments which would disturb significant numbers of newts or affect their ponds or surrounding terrestrial habitat may require licensing.


Breeding birds, their nests, eggs and young are protected during the nesting season. Further protection is afforded to ‘Schedule 1’ listed species such as the kingfisher and barn owl that are also protected from disturbance during the breeding season.

Barn Owl

This bird of prey makes use of buildings and trees for roosting and nesting and is often found associated with disused farm buildings. Surveys for this species help build up a picture of use of structures for roosting and breeding and inform on mitigation design, such as replacement roosting and nesting provision, including purpose-built cavities within buildings or stand-alone nest boxes mounted on poles or trees.

Hazel Dormouse

Hazel dormice are widespread in southern and central England and Wales. Their use of a broad range of habitats, including woodland, hedgerow and bramble thickets can bring them into contact with development projects. Using dormouse boxes and nesting tubes, a previously difficult species to survey for has become a standard part of our suite of protected species surveys.


Damage to a badger sett or disturbance of badgers within a sett requires licensing. Mitigation may be required where badgers and their setts are impacted by development or where their sett digging has caused damage to land.

Mitigation can take the form of barrier fencing, tunnels below roads and the creation of alternative foraging habitat. We are experienced in sett inspection, bait marking studies to map badger territories, works affecting setts, including closures and artificial sett construction, as well as ‘live digs’ of setts to allow for the repair of land.


    I agree to share my email address with Apex Ecology for marketing purposes