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Frequently Asked Questions

Some habitats require periodic natural disturbances to maintain their unique characteristics. By “managing” the land, we can often mimic these natural disturbances in places where the disturbance has been eliminated or diminished.

Additionally, development can significantly reduced the diversity of habitats in some areas, and managing undeveloped lands helps to maintain this diversity. Management techniques that can be used to mimic natural disturbances include prescribed burning, mowing, timber harvesting, removing non-native species, and planting native species.

Some parts of road verges need to be kept short with regular cutting for safety reasons and this cannot be avoided. Most road verges will be cut at some stage during the year or every few years just to keep them open.

Many verges are full of flowers because annual mowing has prevented vigorous, competitive plants from dominating and scrub from eventually taking over. On very thin, stony soils this can be less of an issue, but the natural tendency to become scrub won’t always hold back. Ideally any cutting should be left until the end of the summer, when flowers have set seed and insects are getting ready to over-winter. But this is not always possible for safety reasons, or desirable as the most competitive grasses and plants will also have set seed and spread. So when summer cutting has to take place then the impact can be reduced limiting it to just parts of the verges, with the remainder cut at the end of the season.

Part cutting, especially when not very frequent and when the cuttings do not accumulate, can actually benefit grass verges by creating a range in vegetation structure. A part cutting regime could also try and leave some of the taller vegetation such as dead umbellifer and thistle stems, standing against the hedge, as they are valuable over-wintering places for invertebrates.

A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river or stream. Riparian is also the proper nomenclature for one of the fifteen terrestrial biomes of the earth. Plant habitats and communities along the river margins and banks are called riparian vegetation, characterised by hydrophilic plants.

New legislation means that you are not allowed to cut or trim your hedgerow between 1 March and 31 August unless you have applied for a derogation from the RPA and received written permission or any of the following apply:

• The hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders.
• The hedgerow is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted and because of its condition, it or part of it, is likely to cause danger by falling on to a highway, road or footpath; or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp.
• It is to carry out hedge-laying or coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive).
• It is to trim a newly laid hedgerow by hand, within six months of it being laid.

The change in cutting dates from 2014 was introduced under new EU Regulations requiring the protection of birds during both the breeding and rearing season.

The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August (Natural England) and it is recommended that vegetation works (tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

As contractors we must aim to avoid impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and breaching the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive.
When tree or vegetation clearance work has to be undertaken during the nesting season, a pre works survey needs to be carried out by a suitably competent person. As a general rule, it should be assumed that birds will be nesting in trees, and as contractors it is down to us to assess, record and confirm that any works carried out in the management of trees and other vegetation has not disturbed actively nesting birds.

Ground vegetation, and therefore ground nesting birds, can often be overlooked by tree workers so additional care and controls should be taken when access and egress to the work site may also cause disturbance or damage to a nesting site. This is also true for retained trees on site as the removal of adjacent trees or remedial works on a tree may lead to the established nest being abandoned, exposed to the elements or predation. This action is also a breach of the act and therefore could lead to prosecution.

Do – Contact Us

Don’t
• Don’t flail Japanese Knotweed as this could cause it to spread. Cutting with sharp hooks, slashers etc. or hand pulling is recommended to avoid any dispersal of cut fragments.
• Don’t cause the spread of Japanese Knotweed stem and crowns. If you cut down Japanese Knotweed, it is best to dispose of it on site. Material taken off site is classified as waste and must be safely contained and disposed of at a licensed disposal site.
• Don’t try to dig up Japanese Knotweed as this will lead to a significant increase in stem density. Even a tiny fragment of the cut rhizome is capable of regeneration.
• Don’t spread soil contaminated with Japanese Knotweed rhizome. Any soil that is obtained from ground within 7 m horizontally and 3 m deep of a Japanese Knotweed plant could contain rhizome. The rhizome is highly regenerative and will readily grow into new plants.
• Don’t chip Japanese Knotweed material. Mechanical chippers don’t kill Japanese Knotweed. If you spread the chipped material on soil, Japanese knotweed could regrow.
• Don’t dump garden waste contaminated with Japanese Knotweed in the countryside – you will be breaking the law.
• Don’t add Japanese Knotweed to compost. Compost it separately (preferably on plastic sheeting to prevent rooting) so that you can be sure it is dead.
• Don’t take Japanese Knotweed to recycling centres that receive garden waste as it will contaminate the compost.
• Don’t break the law. Remember, if you cause Japanese Knotweed to spread you are guilty of an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981

Giant Hogweed was brought in to the UK as an ornamental plant. It is native of South-Eastern Europe and is a member of the carrot family. Generally it grows near watercourses and in damp meadows, though it can be found on waste ground where conditions are right. It is a highly invasive plant that grows vigorously. Each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds which can survive for up to 15 years. Giant Hogweed is capable of growing to a height of up to 5 metres.

Contact with this invasive weed produces a skin reaction which is antagonised by exposure to sunlight. Blisters occur 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Damaged skin heals very slowly, leaving residual pigmentation that can develop into recurrent dermatitis. (PCA 2017). A structured treatment program using appropriate herbicides allows giant hogweed to be effectively controlled.

Introduced to the UK in 1839 from Northern India, Himalayan or Indian balsam is most commonly found on river banks and damp areas, though it is capable of thriving in many other habitats. The dense stands on river banks impede the flow in flood conditions exacerbating flooding. They also shade out native plant species.

Himalayan balsam also causes a less obvious problem for native species. Like many flowering plants, Himalayan balsam produces a sugary nectar to attract insects. However the flowers produce more nectar than any other native European species making it more attractive to bees and other insects, luring them away from pollinating our native flowers. (PCA 2017).

A structured treatment program using both herbicides and cultural control methods such as hand pulling can provide effective Himalayan balsam control. Annual treatments are needed, focusing on early control to kill plants before they seed.

If you have not previously had an ecological assessment of your site, then it is most likely that you will require a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA). A PEA is sometimes also referred to as an ‘Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey’, or may have been called an ‘Ecological Walkover Survey’. It is often the first ecological assessment that will be undertaken at a site, and will involve an Ecologist surveying your site to describe the habitats present and identifying whether there are field signs of protected species or potential for protected or notable species to be present. The assessment will usually be accompanied by an appropriate desk based study including collating relevant biological records data.

Biological records include a wide variety of information including information concerning legally protected sites and sites designated for their nature conservation value, habitats of principal importance and legally protected and notable species (which may also include invasive non-native species). The information may be gathered from a number of sources, but typically includes a request being submitted to one of the local biological recording centres for relevant information. The information gathered will be relevant and proportionate to the type of project or proposal being assessed, and forms an important part of an ecological assessment when determining potential impacts to sites or species.

Different protected species may need surveys completed at different times of the year. Surveys are required to be undertaken when evidence (or activity) by that species can be detected by particular survey methods. A combination of the species’ ecology and published survey guidelines will therefore dictate when surveys can take place.

Blackdown Environmental have produced an ecological survey calendar (below) which will help act as a basic guide as to when such surveys can be undertaken. However regional variations and weather conditions may also be applicable so speak with an Ecologist to find out more information. Typically these surveys will be required prior to planning permission being validated by the Local Planning Authority.

Ecological Survey Calendar

Usually not. Local Planning Authorities usually require all relevant information to be submitted when making a planning decision.

Where a proposed activity (e.g. construction or engineering works) would result in an impact to a protected species which would constitute an offence under relevant wildlife legislation (e.g. the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 or the Protection of Badgers Act 1992), then a protected species licence may be required before those works may proceed.

In England such licences are issued by Natural England (NE), in Scotland by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and in Wales, Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Ecologists at Blackdown Environmental can help you design appropriate mitigation and apply for a licence.

We do not provide residential pest control, but where possible we do provide residential bird control services throughout the UK. However, there may be instances where we are unable to due to existing commercial commitments. We apologise if this is the case and you have taken the time to contact us.
If we are unable to help, we recommend you find an alternative BPCA approved pest control supplier. You can contact the BPCA on 01332 294 288 or visit the BPCA website.

Yes. We are a nationwide company providing pest control services via a network of local branches, each with expert friendly pest and bird control teams. We manage and co-ordinate our network via our head office based in Norfolk, but you can talk directly to your local branch manager for advice or local information by calling 0333 567 2020. All enquiries are responded to within 2 business hours.

All of our services are chargeable. If you require domestic pest control your local council may provide a free pest control service. We recommend you contact your local representative to understand if you qualify for free pest control.

A free no-obligation survey is available to anyone with a pest or bird problem. Ecology surveys incur a cost, please contact us for further details. Your local NBC Surveyor will attend site for your pest risk assessment to identify the exact nature of your pest or bird problem and any contributing factors. Recommendations for prevention and control measures will be discussed with you and a full quotation provided.

All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law and it is an offence (with certain exceptions) to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird, or damage the nest. In certain circumstances where birds are a risk to public health or safety it is possible to provide bird control. However, it is imperative that the species of bird is correctly identified before any action is taken and the correct process is followed for legal and humane bird management. We are able to provide consultation and advice on all types of bird control and bird control legislation. We are the UK’s experts!

This depends on the scale of the problem. However, our clients find our services very cost effective especially when offset against saving the cost of the damage to buildings, property maintenance, lost production/construction time and the risk to customers and staff. Many of our clients benefit further from the positive PR from using nature to control nature.

We offer a complete bird-proofing service, with a range of techniques to keep potential problems at bay. Ledges and sills, for example, can be protected with spiking or bird gel deterrents which prevent birds roosting or nesting. Larger areas, such as rooftops, courtyards, hangers or warehouses can be proofed to completely exclude birds. We also provide a falconry response as means of bird control where traditional proofing methods cannot be used, or as part of a larger bird control programme for severe bird control issues.

In addition to falconry response we offer a wide range of bird deterrents. Audio distress callers can broadcast digitally recorded warning calls of nuisance bird species. Bird gels deter birds and bird wire prevent birds alighting on parapets or ledges. We can also provide electric deterrents that work in the same way as cattle fencing. Each bird deterrent has its advantages and disadvantages and can be used in isolation or with other bird control methods as part of a larger bird control programme. To provide you with the most effective solution we recommend you book a free bird control consultation so we can understand the problem and work to your budgetary requirements and specific business needs.

Nesting gulls in particular can become very territorial and highly aggressive to people in the vicinity of their nesting areas. Nesting is usually between March and September so act fast to have a bird control programme prior to the nesting season and avoid issues for your business. Flocking together is a natural feature of bird behaviour. Nesting birds will return year after year to the same site for breeding and so will their young!

We use specially bred and trained hawks and falcons, handled by experienced bird technicians, to deter and disperse nuisance bird populations. A hawk or falcon is a natural threat to nuisance birds and an extremely effective deterrent. Read more about our Falconry response.

NBC supports the Think Wildlife ‘Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Usage’ (CRRU). Our nationwide experts provide a service that is considered, responsible and humane. We limit the use of rodenticides unless absolutely necessary to prevent and reduce the risk of secondary poisoning of non-target wildlife, communities and the environment.

For more information talk to your local NBC team on 0333 567 2020.

There are a variety of methods to get rid of a rodent infestation. The methods used may depend on the type of business or location of the site and the surrounding environment. We limit the amount of toxic baiting where possible offering alternative methods such as break back traps. This reduces the risk of secondary poisoning to non-target wildlife, the environment and the local community. To understand which rodent control method is best for your business talk to your local team of pest control experts on 0333 567 2020.

Under normal circumstances we do not deal with injured animals or birds. Through the course of our services we do occasionally deal with injured wildlife and work with the RSPCA to ensure they receive the treatment or help needed The RSPCA (England and Wales), SSPCA (Scotland) and USPCA (Northern Ireland) are the national charities that help and advise on sick and injured birds and animals.

RSPCA: www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/yourlocal
SSPCA: Animal Helpline 03000 999 999
USPCA: Helpline: 028 3025 1000

There is no specific legislation making it illegal to control bees however it is generally accepted that certain species – as well as other invertebrates – need to be protect to maintain future biodiversity. If you have a bee problem we recommend that you contact your local bee keeper. The best place to start is the British Bee Keepers Association.
British Beekeepers Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm Telephone: 0871 811 2282 or 0871 811 2337

Yes you do unless you come under one of the following exemptions but you should always check with the Forestry Commission to double check. You should also check with the local authority to see if any of the trees are covered by a Tree Preservation Order or are in a Conservation Area as this information is not available in the LIS.
Felling Licence exemptions can be grouped in the following way:

  • Location
  • Type of tree work
  • Volume and diameter
  • Other permissions
  • Legal and statutory requirements

Use the information below to check whether a licence is required. Please contact Forestry Commission England before felling to check that a licence is not necessary. Use the Contact Us button on the top banner to find out the address of the nearest Forestry Commission office or to send us an e-mail.

Exemptions

Location
You do not need a licence to fell trees in:

  • A garden
  • An orchard
  • A churchyard
  • A designated open space (such as land registered under the Commons Act 1899, village greens, public parks and public gardens)

Type of Tree Work
You do not need a licence to carry out:

  • Lopping
  • Topping
  • Pruning
  • Pollarding

Volume and Diameter
You do not need a licence:

  • To fell less than 5 cubic metres in a calendar quarter (Please note that you cannot sell more than 2 cubic metres in a calendar quarter)
  • For trees that have the following diameters when measured 1.3 metres from the ground
    • 8 cm or less
    • 10 cm or less for thinnings
    • 15cm or less for cutting coppice

The Timber Volume Calculator can help you work out the volume of timber in question.

Other Permissions
You do not need a licence if you have a current permission under:

  • An approved Dedication Scheme plan
  • Planning permission (granted under the Town and Country Planning Act)

Legal and Statutory Requirements
You do not need a licence:

  • For trees that are dangerous or cause a nuisance
    See page 3, paragraph 6 of Tree Felling – Getting Permission
  • To prevent the spread of a quarantine pest or disease in accordance with a notice served by a Forestry Commission Plant Health Officer
  • To comply with an Act of Parliament
  • To undertake your duties as a statutory service provider (gas, water, electricity)

Forestry Commission 2017

No, there is a UK law protecting bats that is considerably stricter than it is for most other animals. All bat species are protected under schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Bats are also included in Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994, which defines “European protected species of animals”.

Taken together, the Act and Regulations make it illegal to:

  • Intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture (take) bats.
  • Deliberately disturb bats (whether in a roost or not).
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts possess or transport a bat or any part of a bat, unless acquired legally.
  • Sell, barter or exchange bats, or parts of bats.

We recommend to avoid potential prosecution you consult Natural England or a relevant and recognised body. See contact details on the Bat Conservation Trust website.

Exclusion is the best gull control solution to prevent gulls nesting or creating problems. There are however a number of gull control or deterrent solutions including gull spiking, gull netting, bird wire, electric deterrents, bird gel, falconry response, kites or audio deterrents.

It may also be possible to complete an egg and nest removal programme but as with all gull control methods time is crucial and gull control must be planned around the breeding season (March to September).

All birds are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. The control of birds in the UK is permitted but is governed by the UK ‘General Licences’. There are four versions – one each for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as terms vary.

Management of any birds under the licences can only be completed where the species is causing conflict with conservation or public safety.

We do not recommend that you attempt to clear a gull’s nest by yourself. You may injure yourself or be attacked by angry gulls and if you remove a nest of a different species by accident, you may face prosecution.

There are deterrent or gull proofing control solutions that can be implemented depending on the time of year. The most effective measures are implemented before the gull breeding season commences in March each year. If gull control measures are not permanent (gull proofing) then deterrent programme will need to be repeated each year. Gulls will return to a successful breeding site year after year and in addition young gulls will return to the site at which they were reared.

The gull breeding season is generally from March to September. Urban gulls can be a particular nuisance or threat during this time.

Rooftops are an ideal replacement to replace their natural nesting habitat and urban areas often inadvertently provide a regular food source. Once a gull as nested they will return each year to the same area unless they are prevented access.

There are a number of measures that are designed to deter or disperse gulls from a property or area. It is important the right method is selected for the right situation. Methods may include a bio-acoustic dispersal system, laser dispersal system, falconry response or even kites.

It is best to have a site risk assessment to understand the most effective method of control.

Gulls are expert scavengers and have probably moved to urban areas due to waste and litter being a readily available food source. Urban rooftops are ideal replacement for their natural nesting habitat so gull proofing likely nesting points will prevent your property being used. Using a specially trained bird of prey as a deterrent is also an effective means to deter gulls.

In addition good housekeeping practices will discourage gulls so disposal of waste in securely lidded bins will prevent your property being attractive. Disposing of litter and encouraging your neighbours to do the same will help the area around your business also.

A gull chick is mottled brown is colour and if you see one you should leave it alone as its parents will be vigilant and be looking after it. If it looks ill or injured then you can take it to the nearest RSPCA wildlife centre.

Gulls tend to be aggressive during the breeding season. This behaviour occurs as they are protecting their nest or young and once chicks have hatched it is not possible to tackle the issue until the breeding season is over. The breeding season runs from late march through to September so measures can be installed then.

Gulls are noisy during the breeding season when they have a nest or young to protect. There is no legislation that enable our teams to deal with noise and usually by the time you are subjected to the noise there is little that can be done.
You can though prevent it being as issue next year by installing appropriate gull proofing or deterrents.