So the season is definitely underway and spring has sprung! It won’t be long before we’re all knee deep in great crested newts!

Over the last month the big news in our sector is the issue of the long awaited ITTs for the Enabling Works Packages on HS2 Phase 1. There are seven joint ventures all bidding for three lots, each of which is worth approximately £300 million each.

A fair amount of ecological consultancy work will be included in these lots. By this I mean on-going surveys, production of method statements, licensing for certain activities, overseeing mitigation works and translocating any number of protected species. A large chunk of this will need to be overseen by a whole host of Ecological Clerks of Works (ECoWs) but at its peak there will probably be so much demand for ecologists that together with all the other requirements for ecologists across the country it will put a serious strain on resourcing.

Enter Biocensus (to provide ecologists that is, not machine operators – although thinking about it…???). Our unique capability to provide large teams of local ecologists is custom built for this eventuality. So for the last month I’ve been whizzing around talking to people to allow us to now be in the position of having advanced talks with a number of the JVs bidding for this work.

We passed our RISQS Audit!

Our big news is that last month Biocensus passed its RISQS audit and are now on the Sentinel system. This means Biocensus can now act as primary sponsors for ecologists with the Personal Track Safety (PTS) Qualification to track-side work on the railways. If you or anyone in your company requires ecology work on the railways, we can deploy teams of ecologists under Biocensus sponsorship, saving you the hassle of arranging sub-sponsorship or Track Visitor Permits.

Tim at the CIEEM Spring Conference

In other news, last week I was lucky enough to be asked to talk at the CIEEM (Charted Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) spring conference. My presentation was entitled Ornithological Impact Assessment: moving towards a standardised approach.

My main thesis is that considering the number of other animals groups covered by best practice guidance, ornithology is still surprisingly lacking in this regard. I intended the talk to be a call to arms to the industry to remedy the issue, and I’ve been really pleased with the positive response and offers of help.

I’m hoping that over the coming months I’ll be able to form a working group of interested parties and draft a plan of action that will eventually lead to the publication of such guidance. I’m a passionate believer in evidence-led consultancy, and feel that when we do surveys and impact assessments we must ensure that in the first place they are indeed required (sometimes surveys are carried out on the precautionary principle) and secondly that they are implemented in a standardised and scientifically robust manner.

Finally, bird ringing...

bird_biocensus

Those of you that have read these missives over the years will remember that I always used to finish with a bird ringing story.

Well I moved house six month ago and Easter saw us emerging, like hibernating animals, into our garden blinking in the sunlight, and most importantly putting up a mist net and catching a few birds.

This little fella (or lass) (one can’t tell, we have to assume they can) was the highlight.

Best wishes,

Tim