Welcome Break sought permission to extend an existing lorry park within Hopwood Motorway Services. Ecology by Design was commissioned in September 2016 to carry out the necessary ecological surveys on the site.
In order to extend the lorry park planning permission was required. Ecological surveys were necessary as part of the planning permission and therefore a preliminary ecological appraisal was recommended. The preliminary ecological appraisal was undertaken to gain an understanding of the site, what habitats were present, what species may be present and whether there were any other notable features. This information was then used to inform recommendations for further survey work.
The site was approximately 1.4 hectares with two grassy bunds which extended along the southern and western boundaries and scattered broadleaved trees and shrubs formed natural boundaries on the north and east of the site. Semi-improved acidic grassland dominated, and there were also areas of bare earth and two sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) ponds in the south-east corner. The tussocky grassland was potentially suitable for reptiles with areas for shelter and open areas to bask and the ponds were also potentially suitable for great crested newts. Additionally, there were 11 ponds within 500m of the site, several of which had records for great crested newts . Additional reptile and great crested newt surveys were recommended and subsequently commissioned.
No reptiles were discovered on site during the survey and therefore reptiles did not pose a constraint to the works. During the great crested newt surveys two grass snakes were seen 400m from the site, this was not thought to affect the overall report as the snakes were a good distance from the development site and discovered within a Nature Reserve which provided higher quality habitat than what was on site. However, in the unlikely case that there were reptiles on site recommendations were made to clear the vegetation directionally towards the eastern border therefore giving reptiles the chance to escape through to the adjacent nature reserve. It was also recommended that any rubble, old tyres or dead wood was removed carefully by hand. Enhancements were suggested in the form of log piles and installation of a hibernacula.
A small population of great crested newts were found present in three of the ponds within 500m of the site, however all three ponds were over 250m from the proposed extension works. Due to the location and distance of the ponds to the site and considering the suitable habitat directly around the ponds it was decided that it would be highly unlikely for newts to venture onto site. However, as great crested newts were present in the local area a precautionary method statement was provided within the report which will be followed before any works are undertaken. The two SuDS ponds on site (although no great crested newts were present) will be maintained within the new extension. In addition to the log piles and hibernacula recommended in the reptile report it was also recommended that the rough grassland habitat around the SuDS ponds is retained.