For any development which may require planning permission from your local planning authority (LPA), the LPA need to fully consider the likely ecological impacts of the proposed works.

All native wild reptiles are protected by UK nature conservation legislation, the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These legislative instruments make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or sell any wild reptile in the UK. Sand lizard and smooth snake are further protected under European legislation, making capture and deliberate disturbance an offence, whether or not in a place of shelter. This legislation ensures their habitats are protected from damage, destruction or obstruction. All reptiles occupy habitats of scrub, unmanaged grassland, heathlands and hedgerows. They are declining nationally and negatively impacted by development. Reptiles should be considered during a planning application and construction works.


What can affect reptile populations?                     


  • Removal of grassland

  • Removal of heathland

  • Removal of trees or hedgerows

  • Clearance of scrub vegetation

  • Change of use of a site

  • Development of roads


What needs to be done?

  • Preliminary Ecological Appraisal – This initial survey confirms the potential of a site to be utilised by reptiles and determines if further surveys are required.

  • Reptile surveys -Identify reptile populations, presence or likely absence of reptiles on-site.

  • Mitigation – Ensures a project conserves and protects a reptile population from disturbance, injury or mortality. Therefore, allowing a project to receive planning permission and the construction works are carried out with compliance to legislation.

  • European Protected Species Licence- A license is obtained from Natural England to demonstrate that impacts to smooth snakes and sand lizards are fully mitigated and compensated for.


In order to assess if wild reptiles maybe affected by development, a survey will be required to assess the constraints and impacts.

Presence/Absence and Population Surveys

Targeted reptile surveys can only be carried out between April and September. Surveys are undertaken by placing artificial refugia on a site. The ecologist will attend the site seven times in suitable weather conditions over a period of consecutive weeks.  The site will be surveyed for signs of reptiles and a check of each refugia in turn, recording information and plotting grid references of reptile occurrence. These reptile surveys are carried out in accordance with the Frog life Advice Sheet 10 and Herpetofauna Workers Manual Best Practice Guidelines published by Frog life and JNCC (available online at http://www.froglife.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/FAS_10.pdf and http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-3325) Analysis of the survey results is undertaken to provide recommendations on comprehensive mitigation and enhancements.

Mitigation and Enhancement Strategies

Mitigation and enhancement strategies ensure a project either avoids, mitigates or compensates the impacts from development to ensure all project work complies with legislation. This strategy will provide advice for clients to allow their project to achieve net gains in biodiversity by enhancing habitats on-site or off-site for reptiles.

European Protected Species Licence

The EPSM license for smooth snakes and sand lizards is obtained from Natural England by producing an application form, a Reasoned Statement and a Method Statement which will set out the means of impact avoidance, mitigation and compensation with respect to smooth snakes and sand lizards.

Reptile Ecological Watching Brief

Precautionary Method of Working under ecological supervision by a suitably qualified ecologist may also be required for site clearance works. We will assist you in implementing such measures and will be able to provide toolbox talks to all personnel on-site once works commence to ensure legal compliance and protection.


We are experianced in translocating common reptiles such as slow worms, grass snakes, adders and common lizards to suitable habitats. A translocation project of reptiles requires the deployment of drift fencing, refugias and receptor area for any reptile to be caught and translocated into suitable habitat. enims can provide suitably qualified ecologists who are experianced at handling and translocating reptiles including adders. A translocation of a reptile population requires new suitable habitat and hibernaculum to be created on-site or off-site.

If you require support for your project please call the enims team on 0845 644 0196.