There are four species of reptile within the UK which could potentially be present on a development site if suitable habitat is present. These include:
- Common Lizard Zootoca vivipara
- Slow Worm Anguis fragilis
- Adder Vipera berus
- Barred Grass Snake Natrix Helvetica
These species are protected from killing and injury under the Wildilfe and Countryside Act (1981) as amended. They can occur in a range of different habitats including rough grassland, wetlands, heath, hedgerows and gardens and favour features such as south facing banks, scrub margins and log, stone or brash piles for basking, refuge and hibernation.
Where such habitats occur and where a development has the potential to impact upon suitable habitat, it is therefore important to establish whether reptiles are present by undertaking a survey. This usually involves placing artificial refuges around a site in the form of 1x1m squares of roofing felt and carrying out a subsequent suite of checks, typically 7 in total when reptiles are active. The best months for detecting reptiles are April, May and September.
Two additional species of reptile, the Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca and the Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis also occur within the UK. however these species are more restricted only occurring on sandy and dry heaths and sand dunes.
Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard are European Protected Species and both the animals and their habitats are strictly protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. They are therefore an important consideration if a development is proposed within or close to sandy heathland or sand dune habitats.
At Tor Ecology we regularly undertake reptile surveys on behalf of clients and are able to put together detailed mitigation strategies should a reptile population be present on your site.
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