Although the impacts of Covid19 and the lockdowns have been far reaching for many businesses, at Baker Consultants we’ve had some great successes whilst our team has been working remotely at home and on fieldwork through the past year. As we’ve reached our twelve-year anniversary this month, we’ve taken some time to reflect on how far we’ve come.
As well as landing some exciting new contracts we were the proud recipients of some glassware last month (pictured here to the right) from our industry body CIEEM, for Small Consultancy of the Year 2020 and the Award for Best Practice for Innovation. This piece of bioacoustics research on Thames Basin Heaths also led to Baker Consultants’ Technical Director Carlos Abrahams publishing a peer reviewed paper in the Elsevier Ecological Indicators journal on “Combining bioacoustics and occupancy modelling for improved monitoring of rare breeding bird populations”.
Early 2021 has seen Baker Consultants succeed at public inquiry with two wins for housing developments in complex planning cases. We’re especially proud of an exemplar piece of work that led to the Secretary of State adopting our shadow HRA for a large greenbelt release site.
Earlier in the summer of 2020, we announced a framework agreement with Scottish Power Energy Networks extending our regional work with them. We are now also delivering a project for DEFRA looking at the use of bioacoustics for monitoring agri-environment schemes alongside the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) in Wales. Year one of this project is now coming to its culmination and has already thrown up some interesting results which will inform how land schemes are assessed and valued in the future.
Looking forward, although delayed, the Environment Bill will resume its passage through Parliament later in the year but is already pushing Biodiversity Net Gain to the fore for consultant ecologists, but also for land owners and developers. This marks a significant change to the world of nature conservation, and is a topic that has been covered by CIEEM, the British Ecological Society and UKELA with CPD and informational training sessions as the year has unfolded. There is no doubt that the implications this will have on land prices and land use is a disruptor to long established processes in planning and as an ecology consultancy we will be guiding clients through this new landscape.
The government’s recent commitment to protecting 30% of the English countryside is also an interesting development that will play out in 2021 and beyond. Although 26% of the promised 30% is already covered by National Parks, AONBs and other protected areas, these designated landscapes have few legal or planning mechanisms for protecting or enhancing wildlife and biodiversity. Words now need to be turned into action to help land owners and conservationists realise the positive change for habitat restoration this pledge could bring.
As we emerge from what we hope is the UK’s final lockdown, we’re looking forward to building on the successes of the last 12 months. We’ve taken on two new ecologists and are looking to build the team further to handle the new business we’ve won and to expand geographically, so do get in touch if you’re ready for a change.
If you need advice on land management, planning processes or management and development of sites, then please get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, or you can call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on email@example.com.