Ecosulis
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Case Studies

Energy

Project Name:
Lower Rixdale Farm, Chudleigh
Client:
TGC Renewables
Year:
Sep 30, 2015
Keywords:
Cirl Bunting, Nightjar and Horseshoe Activity Surveys
Summary:
Ecosulis was commissioned in 2014 to undertake ecological surveys in the heart of the Devon countryside for a proposed 12 hectare solar farm development on ...

Ecosulis was commissioned in 2014 to undertake ecological surveys in the heart of the Devon countryside for a proposed 12 hectare solar farm development on pasture and arable farmland associated with traditional Devon hedgerows.

The first challenge faced was the ecological importance of several areas surrounding the site including:

  • Great Haldon Heaths SSSI – 50m from the site and known to support woodland and nightjar.
  • South Hams SAC – Designated for its greater horseshoe bat population the site falls within the 4km sustenance zone.
  • Chudleigh Caves and Woods SSSI – Supporting woodland and an extensive limestone cave network, the site provides an important roosting site for greater horseshoe bats.

Additionally, cirl buntings were recorded on site during the Phase 1 habitat survey. In order to accurately assess the effect of the development on these designations and their associated fauna, Ecosulis undertook breeding bird surveys and horseshoe bat activity surveys over the summer of 2015.

Birds

The schedule 1 cirl bunting reaches the northern limit of its European distribution in the UK and is confined to a small area of Devon, close to the coast. Breeding bird surveys recorded two probable cirl bunting breeding territories over the site.

Whilst no nightjar or woodlark were recorded on site the churring calls of nightjar were often heard coming from the Great Haldon Heaths (SSSI) during evening bat surveys.

Bats

Ten horseshoe bat activity surveys were undertaken in line with current guidance, with additional static detector deployments covering key habitats on site. Over 50,000 recordings were analysed and in addition to common bat species the following notable species were also found on site:

  • Greater horseshoe
  • Lesser horseshoe
  • Barbastelle
  • Nathusius Pipistrelle

 

Through our extensive surveys, Ecosulis has determined that greater horseshoe bats use the site as a key habitat for both commuting and foraging, using both field boundaries and open field habitats. The site also provides key foraging routes for lesser horseshoes and barbastelles whilst a very rare migratory Nathusius pipistrelle was also recorded commuting across the site.

Unfortunately, due to changes in government subsidies the project is no longer financially viable and the development has been put on hold whilst other options are being evaluated.  

 

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