That’s what I was asked the other day, when I told a client in Bristol that Wildwood Ecology staff had completed our last commercial bat survey of the year.

Habitats and species across the UK are influenced by cyclical seasonal changes that ebb and flow across the year. Our countryside and towns seem to swell with an abundance of Wildlife in the summer, which slowly diminishes through the autumn and winter. Through these frugal months we patiently wait and anticipate a spring resurgence. So, during these frugal months what are we doing with ourselves?

Winter tasks

We spend a considerable amount of time during the latter part of summer finishing off reports. Early autumn we are preparing mitigation licences and method statements, helping our clients understand their preferred project delivery times to enable works to progress with the minimal of disruption – both for the project and the ecological issues concerned.

Following a successful planning decision or demolition consent we revisit the timeline and project deliverables and prepare the mitigation licence. On complex sites this may be an iterative process. This is to largely ensure that what we design and commit our client’s and their money to will actually work, but also to take into account changes from other team disciplines that may conflict with the ecological deliverables.

If you have experience of the mitigation licence process you will know that it takes time before an application is approved. Some say that you can take the expected decision time period and multiply that by the number of socks you have in your winter drawer. It’s true, we have been involved with projects that have taken Natural England closer to triple the normal consultation period of time and as each day goes by decisions have to be made on when plant and materials can be delivered to site. All this, we know, puts additional pressure on the project timeline and budget. We therefore act as ‘ecologist in the middle’ between the contractor and Natural England.

I will cut this post short and will return to our other ecological services next month – which is incidentally as long as the target turn around time for mitigation licences. Now, where are my socks?