Located in the heart of the Kent Countryside, Cottage Farms Ltd. approached Greenspace Ecological Solutions to assist with their plans to become the top fruit packing hub for local and international fruit packing. Consulting closely with the associated benefactors, saw the ecological work successfully achieved, this securing the £3.4m investment required to facilitate the build.
GES conducted a range of ecological services, ranging from reptile and great crested newt presence/likely absence surveys to habitat management plans. The surveys identified a low population of great crested newts and a medium population of common lizards within the habitats to be affected.
Evidence gained identified the need for a European Protected Species Mitigation (EPSM) licence for great crested newt and a reptile relocation exercise to be conducted prior to the start of works.
Through careful design, the mitigation strategy achieved the objectives of the development whilst safeguarding the great crested newts and reptile populations present. Submitted by GES and approved by Natural England and the Local Planning Authority, approval of the scheme enabled the works to proceed legally, whilst ensuring the project build programme and the continued day to day running of the farm were achieved.
On-going monitoring of the site has returned some pleasing results, with great crested newt identified within the on-site SUDS and a population of common lizard recorded within the recently created habitats within the site.
Retention of the reptile population and a potential extension to breeding ponds available to great crested newts are a credit to the planning team involved; and a great demonstration of how the local farming industry and ecological receptors can coexist happily within a rural landscape.
Although no further on-going monitoring is required, Cottage Farms are sufficiently pleased with the ecological value and aesthetic appeal of the project. Consequently, they have remained happy to include additional eco value to the site, with advice on features such as native sp. rich hedgerows, grassland diversity and appropriate scrub management being sought.