Executive Summary

The Earned Recognition (ER) Partnership Project involves Natural England (NE), the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). The aims of the project are to design a scheme to streamline the mitigation licensing process for bats in England, raise and maintain professional standards and improve outcomes for bats.

A consultation was launched on 17th November 2020 to gather views on the proposed ER scheme from stakeholders (including local authority planners, local authority ecologists, architects, planning consultants, developers, builders and NGOs) and to identify if respondents would be interested in further stakeholder engagement as the ER project progresses. The consultation closed on 31st January 2021 and this report provides the consultation results. A more detailed consultation was carried out at the same time for ecologists involved in mitigation licensing and is reported on separately.

In total, 143 people responded to the consultation. Of these, 24% were local authority ecologists and 21% were either voluntary or professional ecologists. Planners represented 16% of the sample with smaller proportions of other stakeholders represented.

There was good representation of different geographical areas in which respondents work, sizes of organisation and ecology team, and types of development worked on.

The consultation showed an overall positive response to the ER scheme, with the majority of respondents predicting a positive impact from the scheme on their business/sector. The majority predict that the scheme will reduce delays and be better overall for developers and also that the scheme will be more efficient for NE.

However, over a third (40%) of respondents felt that the scheme might be misused by developers. Robust compliance mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the scheme cannot be misused by any stakeholders in the development process.

Overall, respondents were divided on their predictions relating to likely outcomes for bats. However, competency-based assessment / accreditation and robust compliance mechanisms will ensure improved practices, which will benefit bats. In addition, the scheme will enable NE to divert capacity to more complex cases with greater conservation implications and also to monitoring and therefore improving outcomes for bats.

Nearly two thirds (60%) of respondents expressed interest in further stakeholder engagement.

We would like to thank those who responded to the consultation for their time and look forward to working with some in the future.