Earned Recognition

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.

Why bats?

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

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:

Consultation

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.

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

Update 26/01/22

On 21 January 2022 the Bat Earned Recognition (ER) Pilot opened the ER Site Registration portal. Ecological consultants successfully accredited under the competency testing process of ER are now able to submit Site Registrations and take advantage of the benefits of their Earned Recognition status. This includes a streamlined Site Registration (‘licence application’) service as well as signficantly increased autonomy to undertake licensable bat mitigation works compared to the traditional bat mitigation licensing system.

Accreditation testing of candidate ecologists continues and the number of ER accredited ecologists is expected to grow considerably over the next month. We currently anticipate around 75 ecologists will be accredited. The accreditation and assessment processes of the ER pilot, as well as Site Registration elements, will all be thoroughly evaluated as part of the partnership’s commitment to building a robust and reasonable ER model.

The project team and partnership would like to express their thanks to those that have contributed to this ground-breaking pilot.

Update 20/12/21

The Bat Earned Recognition Pilot Project is progressing really positively and we end the year with Accreditation assessments in full flow. We continue to receive feedback from those involved and this is really helping us to refine the approach and processes associated with Earned Recognition.

A reminder of our journey so far in numbers:

  • From 212 expressions of interest for ER candidate accreditation we selected 102 candidates to commence accreditation, ensuring a wide cross section of ecologists (e.g. in terms of experience, type of organisation and geography).
  • Stage 1 – 96 candidates have completed Multiple Choice Questions
  • Stage 2 – 81 candidates have completed Online Scenario Tests
  • Stage 3 – 61 candidates have submitted portfolio evidence (with more expected to be submitted in the New Year)

Further portfolio assessments and professional review interviews (Stage 4) are scheduled to be undertaken in January 2022 to enable as many as candidates as possible to start submitting ER Site Registrations when the portal opens from January to August 2022.

Our thanks again to all those who have been involved or provided feedback on the Pilot to date.

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