CIEEM is working with Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust on the pilot for a new transformative approach to licensing mitigation work in England that impacts on bats. This approach is known as Earned Recognition.
Applications for licences involving bats and bat roosts are by far the highest proportion of mitigation licence applications received by Natural England and numbers are increasing year on year. The vast majority are lower risk situations but they still need to be licensed which requires time, effort and cost on the part of the developer, the consultant and Natural England. This reduces the resources available for monitoring, enforcement and drawing together the evidence base for the effectiveness of mitigation. Natural England’s resources to put into licensing are stretched and a more streamlined approach would have benefits for everyone.
We believe that an accreditation system would help to improve standards of bat mitigation and lead to better outcomes for bat conservation.
Earned Recognition works on the basis of assessing and accrediting a consultant’s competence in undertaking survey work and designing effective mitigation so that, by using an accredited consultant, developers can experience a more streamlined licensing process for their scheme or project. The competency requirements for consultants are being defined on the basis of relevant selected elements of CIEEM’s Competency Framework (but a more detailed version with a bats emphasis) with the indicators of competence mapped across to BCT’s Professional Training Standards. There will be different competency requirements based on the level of accreditation applied for which, in turn, relates to the degree of risk to bats and bat roosts from the projects that the accredited consultant will be able to work on. Quite simply, consultants who work on projects that involve higher risks to bats will require a higher level of accreditation that involves demonstrating a higher level of competence.
The number of bat species in the UK, together with the variation in their geographical distribution makes this quite a complex system to design, so we have produced some key documents:
- The Earned Recognition Accreditation Levels document summarises how the project partners currently envisage the accreditation levels working.
- The Earned Recognition Competency Framework Summary document provides a brief overview of each of the Earned Recognition competencies, and sets out the requirements for each Accreditation Level
- Underpinning the scheme for bat mitigation licensing is a detailed version of the competencies shown in the Competency Profiles document, with each competency comprising a series of indicators of competence. We have included an example here for just one of the competencies, Design and Preparation of management, mitigation and enhancement plans and projects to give you an idea of what the detail looks like.
Natural England undertook a stakeholder consultation exercise early in the project lifecycle but the project partners then undertook a more detailed consultation in late 2020 and early 2021.
There were two consultations, one for ecologists involved in licensable mitigation work and one for other stakeholder groups, including local authority planners, local authority ecologists, developers, architects, planning consultants, builders, professional bodies and NGOs.
The project partners delivered a webinar about the proposed scheme and the forthcoming pilot on 19 November 2020. The webinar recording is available here and a summary of the question and answer session is available to download here.
The consultation is now closed and the summary report for ecologists involved in licensable mitigation work is available here, whilst the summary report for other stakeholder groups is available here. The Project Partners have produced a summary of questions and answers arising from the consultation process which can be found here.
Bat Earned Recognition Pilot – Ecologist Registration
Ecologist registration to undertake Accreditation Assessment as part of the pilot project is now closed. Thank you to all who registered, we will be reviewing candidates and aim to to notify all candidates who have submitted a Registration Form by 31st August 2021.
Please note that having submit a Registration Form, this does not obligate you to undertake Accreditation Assessment if invited. Should you be invited to undertake Accreditation Assessment, further details will be provided (e.g. expected timescales; the Accreditation Assessment process; and required commitments during the Pilot). The first stage of Accreditation Assessment consists of a set of Multiple Choice Questions, reflecting the ER Competency Framework. The MCQs will act as a gateway to participating in the following stages, which includes submission of a portfolio of career evidence, a series of desk-based Online Scenario Tests (OST), and finally a Professional Interview designed to test applicants’ competence against the requirements for one of the three Accreditation Levels. The Accreditation Levels and ER Competency Framework may be viewed above. Candidates will be required to pass all stages of the accreditation process. For successfully accredited ecologists, they will gain access to a new streamlined licensing process, which provisionally aims to run from December 2021 through to August 2022, (and potentially beyond).