The Worcestershire County Council ecology team provide a range of (in-house) ecological services, including; extended Phase 1 survey, protected species advice and survey, Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and European Protected Species (EPS) licensing. Below summarises important species within Worcestershire.
There are some 17 species of bats in the UK, 14 of these species occur in Worcestershire. Bats and bat roosting habitats are fully protected by both the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Habitats Regulations. Seven species of bat (Barbastelle, Bechstein’s, Noctule, Soprano pipistrelle, Brown long-eared, Greater horseshoe and Lesser horseshoe bat) are Priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and have also been adopted as Species of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006).
Great Crested Newt
Worcestershire contains many regionally important meta-populations of great crested newts. Great crested newts and their habitats are fully protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Habitats Regulations. Both the great crested newts’ aquatic habitat (typically large ponds) and terrestrial habitat are protected from damage and destruction.
They are a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and have been adopted as a Species of Principal Importance in England under section 41 of the NERC Act (2006).
Adders are scattered and declining in the county where as slow-worms are widely distributed throughout Worcestershire. All reptiles are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to kill them if this can reasonably be avoided. They are also identified as Priority species in the UKBAP and, as such, have been adopted as Species of Principal Importance in the UK. The habitats of common reptiles are not specifically protected, however, an obligation to replace reptile habitat may still come through the planning system as animals captured from a development site still have to be released somewhere. Releasing reptiles into unsuitable habitat could constitute an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
From April 2008 under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), water voles and their resting places are fully protected in England, it is an offence to deliberately, capture, injure or kill them or to damage, destroy or obstruct their breeding or resting places. It will continue to be an offence to disturb them in their breeding or resting places.
Otters are beginning to recover within Worcestershire with presence on virtually all of the watercourses throughout the county. Otters and their habitats are fully protected under both UK and European legislation. There are designated areas of protection, but even outside of these sites, otters and their holts are fully protected. The otter is a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, the Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan and has also been adopted as a Species of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006). It is government policy that local authorities protect such species from the adverse effects of development.
The hazel dormouse has been recorded on two sites in Worcestershire. Hazel dormice and their habitats are fully protected by both the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Habitats regulations. The dormouse is also a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and the Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan and has been adopted as a species of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act 2006 (section 42 in Wales) and so is protected from any adverse effects as the result of development.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is illegal to kill, injure or take a badger or to interfere with their setts. They are afforded protection in order to prevent badger baiting and other blood sports involving badgers rather than to conserve badger populations. The presence of badgers on a development site can lead to planning permission being refused unless it can be demonstrated that the species will be adequately protected during the development process, that disturbance will be kept to a minimum and, if necessary, that an adequate alternative habitat will be provided to sustain at least the existing population.
There are three levels of protection for birds:
- Those listed on Schedule1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (a long list including the Greenshank, Barn Owl, Black Redstart, Sandpiper, Woodlark) who enjoy protection from disturbance (intentionally or recklessly) during the breeding season.
- The 49 species that are listed as Species of Principal Importance in England under section 41 of the NERC Act ( includes Lapwing, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Song thrush) which must be protected from adverse effects of any development.
- All species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any species of wild bird, and to take, damage or destroy their nests or eggs.
White Clawed Crayfish
The white clawed crayfish is listed under Annex II of the Habitats Directive and therefore member states are required to designate Special Areas of Conservation to protect important populations of this species. Outside designated sites, white-clawed crayfish receive partial protection under the law. It is prohibited to commercially harvest or capture white-clawed crayfish without a licence but the legislation does not provide strict protection of individual crayfish or their habitats specifically (although their habitat is usually indirectly protected through other legislation such as the Water Framework Directive). The white clawed crayfish is also a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and is a Species of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006) status of such species when determining planning applications.
There are a number of Schedule 8 plant species afforded protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Species present in Worcestershire include the deptford pink (Dianthus armeria) and early gentain (Gentianella anglica).
There are a variety of important Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Habitats within Worcestershire. Habitats include acid grassland, heathland, ancient woodland, wetland, neutral grassland. The Worcestershire BAP website contains Habitat Action Plans.