I specialise in mammals and most of my work involves otters, badgers and
dormice, occasionally bats or water voles. However I have a considerable
breadth of knowledge and experience with a wide range of mammal species
and have under taken work or planned surveys on several others including
water shrews, harvest mice, red squirrels, deer, hares and pine marten.
Surveys: Planning, execution, supervision, interpretation and presentation
Licences: Dozens of licences for badgers over a period of more
than 15 years, both for development and damage; many licences for dormice
in connection with development; holder of licence to handle dormice anywhere
in England; holder of licence to mark dormice with microchips for one
project in Cornwall. Holder of licence to disturb and take bats (i.e.
carry out surveys) in SW England. Licenses for otters are very rarely
needed but I have obtained a licence to exclude otters from and to destroy
a potential holt at one site.
Habitat modification: Exclusion of badgers from and supervision
of the destruction of a considerable number of badger setts; I have built
badger setts in the past, but now prefer to leave it to specialists. Supervision
of work in dormouse habitats under licence. Planning, execution, or supervision
of mitigation work for both species and for water voles.
Advisory work: I am regularly asked to comment on advice from other
consultants particularly where they may have less experience or a client
is concerned at the apparent cost or complexity of a project. Often this
leads to reassurance that appropriate and cost effective recommendations
have been made, occasionally to contrary advice. On one occasion approximately
£10,000 of work recommended prior to the installation of a pipeline
was shown not to be necessary. Elsewhere a seven figure sum was saved
when my experience combined with lateral thinking led to an alternative
suggestion for mitigation which satisfied the requirements of CCW for
a licence application without significant additional landtake.
Legal advice: I am an ecologist not a lawyer and therefore only
give advice on legal matters with considerable caution. Nevertheless,
I have a good working knowledge of the way that Statutory Nature Conservation
Organisations interpret environmental legislation relating to protected
species of mammals. Where I have a clear opinion based on my ecological
knowledge relating to legal issues I am willing to give a firm statement
to that effect and to justify it. Considerable experience means that my
ecological opinions tend to carry weight.
Examples of Projects
Housing: I have worked on many housing schemes, large and small, working
for small local builders as well as large national companies (such as
Persimmon and Wimpey). Most have involved dealing with badger setts within
or close to the developed area, a few concerned dormice. Otters and water
voles have occasionally been a cause for concern but do not usually present
Otters and Roads: Since 2000 I have been involved in several projects
intended to reduce the number of otters killed on the roads in the UK
and this has become something of a speciality. Several have been funded
by the Highways Agency via their Managing Agents including work in areas
1, 3 and 5. The first of these, in area 1, involved a survey of the whole
system to determine whether there were any factors which could be used
to predict otter casualties and to make recommendations for reducing these.
Work in Area 3 and 5 was targeted as specific roads. I was also involved
in a national study financed by the HA and run by Halcrow, both as a member
of the advisory committee and as trainer of the surveyors carrying out
I have undertaken several projects for the Environment Agency in southern
Britain, advising on mitigation for otters at road crossings and creating
and maintaining a database of otter road casualties.
At the IUCN Otter Specialists Group's workshop in Italy in 2008 I was
asked to present a paper entitled Otters and Road Casualties which was
subsequently published in Hystrix - the Italian Journal of Zoology.
LIFE in UK rivers: In 2003-2005 I undertook a series of tasks in
connection with this EU funded program leading to three publications.
The first of these was a commission to prepare document summarising otter
habitat requirements and this was published as 'Ecology of the European
Otter' (see publications).
The second was to recommend a protocol for monitoring otters in SACs since
the existing 'standard' method was devised for the national scale. Published
as 'Monitoring the Otter' this was followed by a further contract to test
the recommended method on five river catchments in England where the otter
is a primary feature of interest (English Nature Research Report No 664.
Otter surveillance in SACs: testing the protocol).
Pipelines: In southern England the most frequent concerns with pipelines
are dormice or badgers though otters are occasionally of interest. I have
worked on many water, sewage and gas pipeline schemes from the initial
planning of surveys through to licence application, overseeing work carried
out under licence and mitigation. Major clients: South West Water; Wales
and West Utilities.
Major road projects: A303 Bodmin to Indian Queens upgrade. Undertook
most of the mammal work: surveys for badgers and dormice; applications
for licences to disturb these species and supervision of their execution;
advised on mitigation for otters.
This is the first site where my novel suggestion for dormouse 'underpasses'
was implemented, and although these are being monitored, no results are
Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. In 2008 Mott MacDonald sought my advice
because the surveys and mitigation recommendations for dormice had been
considered inadequate by English Nature. I was able to demonstrate to
English Nature that the surveys were adequate and to recommend mitigation
measures which were acceptable to them.
A5 New Buildings to Aughnacloy, Northern Ireland. I was asked by Mouchel
Ltd to advise on and co-ordinate mammal surveys for this 90km scheme and
to undertake some of the survey work. This involved devising methods for
surveying species which have no established protocols for these circumstances
(pine marten and red squirrel) as well as recommending practical methods
of carrying out surveys for otter breeding sites in an area of a few hundred
New towns: In Devon major developments are underway near Exeter and
Plymouth to develop new towns. I carried out much of the preliminary mammal
survey work at the Plymouth site undertaking work on otters, dormice and
badgers and assisting with bat surveys. At Exeter involvement has been
principally with infrastructure to date, mainly roads, and has included
surveys for dormice, badgers and bats and submission of the first licence
for dormice on the scheme.
I contribute to a post-graduate course on Ecological Impact Assessment
at Bath Spa University.
I run a course on Badgers, Otters and Dormice at Slapton Ley Field Centre
for the Field
Studies Council. This provides a sound introduction to the ecology
of the species and covers many aspects of consultancy work.
I regularly prepare and run bespoke courses for clients including large
consultancy companies (e.g. WSAtkins, Mott Macdonald) and for local government.
These are tailored to the needs of individual clients and might cover
particular species or particular circumstances (roads, footpaths, pipelines).
For small companies or individuals who do not wish to book me for a full
course I am happy to enter into a mentoring arrangement whereby I guide
a member of staff through the process of planning and carrying out surveys
and/or licensing procedures.
Dormice in a Fragmented Landscape
From 2007 to 2010 I studied dormice living on and beside the A30 in Cornwall
in collaboration with Leonardo Gubert of EnterpriseMouchel. The work was
funded by English Nature/Natural England and the Highways Agency.
We found that there is a thriving population of dormice living in a very
fragmented landscape on either side of the road and on the central reservation.
A few dormice were recorded crossing the road and others are known to
have done so. Breeding was recorded on the central reservation in three
of the four years. Of the 62 adult dormice marked so far, 28 were first
caught on the central reservation and one other moved there between one
spring and the next.
Insects in the Diet of Dormice
Together with colleagues in Swift Ecology and at the Waterford Institute
of Technology, I have been awarded a grant by the Whitley Wildlife Trust
to investigate insects in the diet of dormice using molecular methods.
This pilot project is intended to determine whether the technique - used
by Matt Zeale of Bristol University in a study of Barbastelle bats - will
reveal the range of insects eaten by dormice and any seasonal differences.