Our senior ecologist, Sarah, is registered under the Natural England Barn Owl Survey Class Licence CL29. Sarah volunteers with local barn owl groups and uses this expertise of local barn owl populations within our professional surveys and mitigation.
Working in accordance with the nationally recognised Barn Owl Conservation Handbook and Rural Planning Applications – A guide both written by The Barn Owl Trust, we offer surveys, mitigation and advice to a high professional standard abiding by best practice guidelines.
Barn Owls are listed on Part 1 (section 1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is an offence to kill, injure or take a barn owl or to damage or destroy the nest of a barn owl whilst in use or being built. Barn owl’s inclusion on Schedule 1 affords further protection against wilful disturbance whilst at or near the nest. Due to the concern over its current status the species is also listed in the EC Birds Directive and listed under Appendix II of the Bern Convention.
If a development will impact on features that could support breeding barn owls such as an agricultural building or mature tree, a barn owl survey will confirm the presence or absence and identify the breeding status of the barn owls on site.
Surveys for barn owls comprise an inspection of building or trees looking for evidence of use by breeding barn owls such as nest debris, droppings, feathers/fluff and activity by young and/or adult birds. Surveys can be carried out throughout the year but evidence of current use is most likely to be present between March and September. However, barn owls have been known to breed in any month of the year and their breeding patterns are very dependent on the prey populations/weather conditions/success of previous broods. Sarah is a keen volunteer for local barn owl groups and is always aware of local breeding success assisting in a detailed picture of the barn owl population and this experience is used to assist with our barn owl surveys.
When surveys show that impacts on barn owls are unavoidable we will provide advice on how to mitigate the impacts of the project. For example this may include timing the works to avoid periods of the year when barn owls are especially sensitive to disturbance, i.e. the breeding season which typically runs from March to August inclusive. Where the loss of an existing breeding/roosting site cannot be avoided, for example where buildings supporting barn owls are to be demolished, we can provide advice on how alternative provision and/or permanent provision can be provided on site, for example by installing an external barn owl box on a tree (see adjacent photograph).