Legislation and Policy
The Dormouse is protected through inclusion in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which consolidates all the various amendments made to the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 in respect of England and Wales. The 1994 Regulations transposed Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (EC Habitats Directive) into national law. Taken together, these legislative instruments make it illegal to carry out the following activities:
• intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture Dormice;
• deliberately disturb Dormice (whether in a nest or not); and
• damage, or destroy Dormouse breeding sites or resting places.
UK planning policy under the terms of Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS 9) sets out the Government’s national policies on different aspects of planning in England that regional planning bodies and local planning authorities (LPAs) are expected to consider. Key components of this policy include:
• Planning decisions should be based on up-to-date information (e.g. surveys) about the environmental characteristics of their areas;
• Planning decisions should aim to maintain, enhance, restore or add to biodiversity interests. In taking decisions LPAs should ensure that appropriate emphasis is attached to designated sites, protected species, and to biodiversity interests within the wider environment;
• The aim of planning decisions should be to prevent harm to biodiversity interests.
• It also emphasis’s that development proposals provide many opportunities for building-in beneficial biodiversity features as part of good design and that when considering proposals, LPAs should maximise such opportunities in and around developments.
PPS 9 requires that LPA’s take steps to promote the conservation of habitats and species of ‘principal importance’ (i.e. BAP habitats and species) through their planning function.
Therefore developments on sites where Dormice may be present need to be mindful of this legislation and policy.
Cambridge Ecology has extensive experience in surveying for Dormice using specific survey techniques to determine the presence or likely absence of Dormice within the study area. The data collected is used to devise appropriate mitigation strategies
If there is a likelihood of disturbing Dormice, surveys must be carried out by licensed surveyors. Cambridge Ecology has a wide range of skills required in this specialist area. These include the use of various standard and specialised Dormice surveys methods such as:
• Box and Tube Surveys - involves the installation of boxes or tubes, ideally in early spring within the study area. The boxes and tubes are inspected on a regular basis between May and October to record the presence of Dormice.
• Nut Search Surveys - Dormice leave distinctive feeding evidence on one of their favourite food sources, hazel nuts. Nuts located beneath hazel trees are surveyed for evidence of feeding activity. This is most effective in September to November when fallen nuts are at their freshest and feeding evidence left by the species is still evident. Later, nuts may become dispersed with worn feeding evidence.
Habitat Creation and Mitigation
• Mitigation strategies and method statements to inform development licence applications to ensure our clients remain complaint with the relevant legislation. A development that may result in the loss of Dormouse habitat or the disturbance of Dormice requires a development licence.
• Creation of scrub and woodland habitats suitable for Dormice.
• Maintenance and creation of new linkages between areas of suitable habitat such as linking hedgerows, scrub and woodland strips with extensive areas of woodland or mature scrub. Where Dormouse habitat is to be lost it will usually be necessary to translocate animals away from this area, to permanently retained areas.
• Supervision of vegetation clearance generally only possible between August and October, when the species is active and birds’ breeding season is over.