Baker Consultants

Reptiles survey

Snakes, lizard and slowworm

British reptiles are protected by law and their presence on a development site can have implications for construction projects in a range of sectors, including house-building, infrastructure and renewable energy. Our experienced ecology consultants have the knowledge, expertise and licenses to identify whether reptiles are present and, if necessary, arrange mitigation procedures to allow the development to proceed and meet all legal requirements. Potential impacts on the reptile population which must be considered include losing links between habitats, separating summer and hibernation sites, reduction in habitat quality, risk of fire and the effect of increased litter.

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Protection and survey methods

All British reptiles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended by the CRoW Act 2000) and listed as Species of Principal Importance under the provisions of the NERC Act 2006. Grass snake, slow worm, common lizard and adder are protected against intentional killing, injury and against sale; whilst the rarer smooth snake and sand lizard are also protected against disturbance whilst occupying a ‘place used for shelter or protection’ and the destruction of such places.

In addition, smooth snake and sand lizard are protected under the Habitats Regulations 2010, making them European Protected Species. Following a desk study to find out if records exist on or near the site a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal will confirm whether further survey is necessary. Surveys are undertaken during reptiles’ active season, April, May and September. Numbered mats are laid out across the site and checked regularly during suitable weather conditions.

Terrestrial reptiles tend to favour south-facing slopes and mosaics of exposed and sheltered microhabitats, which can provide shelter from the elements as well as basking areas for thermoregulation. Terrestrial reptiles reduce their metabolic processes in the colder months of October to March by entering a period of hibernation, when they seek shelter. They are typically site-loyal and often return to the same hibernation areas every year.

Reptiles survey

Why Baker Consultants?

Baker Consultants has carried out the full range of reptile surveys and recommended mitigation and management plans as well as supervising habitat creation and restoration on development sites. If plans cannot be altered to avoid impacts on reptiles, mitigation will be required. This could include additional habitat creation to compensate for habitat loss, and/or work to enhance local reptile status. Mitigation, during and following the development can assist in the conservation of reptile species and ensure that legal requirements are met for developments on land with reptile populations subject to the threat of decline. Mitigation should ensure there is no net loss of local reptile conservation status, whilst also being proportionate and pragmatic. The best option in each case will depend upon the species present and the availability of a suitable receptor site. Our team includes specialist consultants who are involved in best-practice training and supporting the adder re-introduction project in Nottinghamshire. See our case studies for project examples.

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Reptiles survey

Who is this survey for?

There are 6 species of terrestrial reptile native to the UK: Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) Grass snake (Natrix natrix) Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) Adder (Vipera berus) are widespread Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca – found in England only) Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis – absent in Scotland) are rarer. Distribution of reptiles can be patchy and locally limited, and the habitats in which they are found are varied, ranging from coastal sand dunes and grassland to upland heath. Terrestrial reptiles such as these depend on external sources, including sunlight and heated rock surfaces, to regulate their body temperature, making them ‘ectothermic’.

Find out more about Species and Habitat surveys