Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

View over New Forest lowland heathland from Vereley Hill at dawn, Burley, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England, UK - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

From helping wildlife at home to responding to planning applications, we've answered the questions that are sent to us most frequently. 

Helping wildlife

Can you help rescue an animal?

If you found have an injured animal please call:
0300 1234999

If you have found a grounded bat please call:
National Bat Helpline:
0845 130 0228

What should I do if I find a recently fledged bird?

It’s common in spring and summer to find young birds sitting on the ground or hopping about without any sign of their parents. The birds are beginning to leave the nests and the parents will usually be close by searching for food and keeping an eye on their chick.

Unless the bird is in immediate danger, it’s best to leave it where it is. If the bird is in a busy road or footpath, or is in danger of being attacked by predators, the bird can be moved a minimal distance but must still be in hearing range of the parents who will be nearby.

What should I do if I witness or suspect a crime against wildlife?

If you are concerned about a wildlife crime, you can:

  • Call 999 if the crime is in progress.
  • Call 101 if it's non-urgent suspected wildlife crime

If you are unsure if what you are witnessing or have witnessed is a wildlife crime visit the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit.  They have a comprehensive list of what is wildlife crime in the UK.

If you witness a crime against wildlife it is important that you do not confront the suspects or try to intervene in any way. Similarly, it is essential that you do not to disturb the scene of the crime. You could inadvertently destroy vital evidence needed for a successful prosecution. You may also put your own health at risk as sadly illegal poisons, traps and snares are still used by wildlife criminals today.

If you find or witness anything suspicious, it is important to report it to the police. A crime against wildlife is not always obvious and may require specialist attention to uncover the truth.

If possible, try to record as many details as you can about the event:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location (GPS grid reference is the most accurate)
  • Weather Conditions
  • Details about the suspect: gender, age, appearance, etc
  • Details of any vehicles: model, colour, registration number plate, etc
  • Details of the crime in a chronological order 
  • Photographs if possible

If the use of poison is obvious, such as poisoned bait or the presence of dead animals, where possible try to place a cover over these without risking your own health. This will help prevent further casualties whilst disturbing the crime scene as little as possible.

If you are concerned that protected species have been impacted, please also report this to Natural England on 0300 060 3900.

If you have concerns with regards to bird of prey persecution, please contact RSPB Crime Unit.

If you are concerned a developer is not abiding by planning conditions, please report this to your local planning authority enforcement team. 

Can you ID something for me?

If you can obtain a good quality, in focus image(s) of the species in question, with something present to reference scale, and send this to, we will do our best to identify the species.

What can I do to help wildlife?

If you are interested in supporting wildlife and nature in your local area there are lots of things you can do. xxx outlines some ideas which can be done in any home, flat or garden to give wildlife a boost.

Make sure you record your sightings and submit your records to your Local Records Centre to ensure that we can monitor species populations and distributions in the long term.

Other ways you can help are through our volunteering opportunities, community events and by supporting the Trust by becoming a member. 

What do I do if I have great crested newts in my pond?

There are a number of species of newt and amphibian found in Yorkshire. This ID guide  should help you identify what species you have. Once you are certain of the identification, we would encourage your submit records to your local records centre. 
As amphibians are protected, with great crested newts offered the highest level in the country, it is often a concern when you find them in your garden pond. However, for most routine works you will not require a Natural England Licence, you can find advice on when a licence is required here (NE note). Generally speaking, for any amphibian species, routine management of your pond is fine to undertake so long as it is done in a sensitive manner (i.e. by hand) and outside of the breeding season which extends mid-March to mid-June. You can find more guidance on conservation for great crested newts here (handbook).   

What do I do if I have bats in my house?

If you think you have bats in your house, loft or roof, there is no reason for concern. Usually they will keep to themselves and you will not know they are there. However, if you are lucky enough to have a nursery roost, you may find confused young in your house. If this happens we would advise that you contact Bat Conservation Trust who will be able to advise on your circumstance and if necessary send out a licenced person to help you and the bat. 
Bats will often roost between your roof lining and the roof tiles, they take advantage of small gaps in mortar, slipped tiles and gaps in gable ends. This can cause problemsBats may therefore need to be taken into account   if you need to reroof your house or carry out any works to rainwater goods. For any works requiring planning permission, a bat survey should be completed by an ecological consultant, you can find registered consultants here. 
For smaller scale works see advice here (BCT?).
Whilst we are aware that some people have concerns with regards to the current pandemic situation and bats, we would advise that there is a very low risk of transmission between species and refer you to BCT guidance in this situation. 

Protecting nature and land

Can you buy land so it can’t be developed/create a nature reserve near me?

As a charity, it is very rare that we have sufficient funds to be able to buy additional land. Furthermore, we have extremely limited resources which can help us manage said land.

As such, if we are considered buying a plot of land for creation as a nature reserve, it is usually focussed around areas which are already near to our reserves and thus would provide an extension of that reserve; or offer a large area where significant gains can be made with funding available in the long term for appropriate management of the site. Examples of such reserves include North Cave wetlands. 

Can my local wild area be designated as a nature reserve?

Your local site may be possible to be designated as being of importance for nature conservation; however, the Trust does not have authority in these decisions. The local council will designate areas as Local Wildlife Sites, if an area holds good quality local priority habitats or significant populations of notable species. This usually requires a habitat survey by an experienced botanist ecologist, who can assess the site against LWS criteria; or years of surveys to evidence the stable population of the notable species in question to demonstrate that the site is of importance. LWS panels meet regularly to discuss opportunities for new sites.

The local council will also have authority over the designation of Local Nature Reserves (LNR), which may be based on the importance of the site to the local community. Different councils will have different criteria for LWS and LNR’s which can usually be found on their webpages or through consultation with the local biodiversity officer. 
For national designations, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), further evidence to demonstrate the national importance of the site is required. These areas will be considered and designated as appropriate by Natural England. 
Local groups such as the local bat group, naturalists and other charities such as Froglife and ARC may be able to help you with any survey requirements

Will you object to a planning application near me?

As a small team covering the whole of Yorkshire, we cannot respond to all planning applications. We therefore focus on forward planning (e.g. local plans) and prioritise responses to those areas where we have most local knowledge – close to our nature reserves and projects. Applications/plans which would significantly impact sites which are designated for their wildlife value, such as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), will also be given a high priority. 

Occasionally we will get involved with applications outside of these areas if it may be possible to secure a large environmental gain. We will not usually respond to small householder developments outside of habitat networks and designated sites. 

As we are not a statutory consultee, we can only offer advice to planning authorities. As such, it is very rare that we will object to an application as we need to protect our role as a professional organisation whose advice can be relied upon to be pragmatic when considering the planning balance (i.e. the need for that type of development). We hope that by not objecting consistently to numerous applications, rather only doing so when a truly detrimental scheme comes forward, the planning authority will weigh our concerns strongly in the consideration of the application and we can have greater influence. 

We will always work towards encouraging the implementation of good practice to ensure most impacts are avoided, mitigated or appropriately compensated and we will work closely, where possible, with local planning authorities, ecological consultants and developers to achieve the best gains for nature. 

Over the years we have found this approach provides the best result for nature and the local community. 

Should I employ a consultant to oppose a planning application?

All planning applications should include an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) as a supporting document. This is a document which should be undertaken by a professional ecologist who follows industry standard guidance. They are required to consider the impacts to any notable habitats, such as ancient woodland (link) and European Protected Species, such as great crested newts and bats. If you are not happy with the conclusionsdo not believe the conclusions   within the report are accurate, we would not usually recommend that you undertake your own survey. Any consultant you employ will adhere to the same guidance and is likely to return the same conclusions. However, if you think there is demonstrable evidence that the survey has not been conducted in line with good practice guidance, we would recommend that you put pressure on the developer and/or the local planning authoritycouncil, to undertake a second survey with an independent consultant to provide a second opinion. These reports can be very costly to undertake, hence we would not recommend you do  commission them yourself, unless in exceptional circumstances. If you are set on hiring an ecologist, or would like a recommendation, we would advise the use of CIEEM Registered Practice Directory. 

Can you visit a site/do a survey for me?

When responding to planning applications we will attend site if it is a significant proposal with serious potential impacts, and time allows. As we are extremely limited on resources, we unfortunately cannot attend every site and we cannot provide specific survey advice.

Can you provide management advice?

The Trust have experience in managing a number of different types of habitat and may be able to offer some broad level advice depending on your query. Please note, it can be difficult to recommended specific advice without a site visit and detailed species lists from previous years. As a charity we therefore cannot offer a detailed management proposal. 
However, please refer to our guidance here(to be written??),  for some tips to make your home more wildlife friendly. 
If you are looking for advice for a development, please use the appropriate consultation approach. 

Do you support biodiversity net gain?

The Trust is supportive of the principles of Biodiversity Net Gain and are keen to ensure they are upheld. That is, to ensure any development leaves the local area with improvements to the ecological value and connectivity, then what was there beforehand. We are aware that there are a number of concerns relating to this, however, are working closely with Local Planning Authorities, Natural England and other NGOs to prevent any loopholes being exploited. As a new principle, it is likely to take a settling in period before its value will be demonstrated, however we believe it is the biggest progress that has been made for biodiversity within the planning system for a number of years.