Dormouse Surveys and Mitigation

The hazel (or common) dormouse is a nocturnal species predominantly associated with ancient woodland and hedgerow habitats, but can also occur in scrub and coniferous woodland. Its range is largely restricted to southern England and south Wales but even here its distribution is patchy and localised. Dormice lead an arboreal lifestyle during the summer months, rarely descending to ground level, but during the long months of hibernation (October to March/April) it nests in tightly woven grass, under leaf litter at the base of trees, hedgerows and coppice stools.

Dormice feed on a variety of seasonal food resources, including nectar, pollen, young leaves, insects, berries, seeds and of course hazel nuts. An interlinked canopy structure that doesn’t force them to ground but allows sufficient sunlight to maintain food availability are important determinants of habitat suitability for dormice. But their low density and slow rate of dispersal are such that habitat connectivity and absence of fragmentation are vital to maintaining a viable population.

If your development proposal will affect interlinked mature hedgerows, ancient woodland, hazel coppice or other suitable habitats, particularly in southern England, you may need to seek ecological advice before submitting a planning application.

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Case Studies

Badger, Bat & Dormouse Surveys - Mixed Use Development Site (Part 2)

We have been advising on this site for a number of years having carried out an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey in 2012, and reptile surveys and great crested newt surveys in 2013.  ‘Low’ populations of slow worm, common lizard and grass snake were recorded but no great crested newts…

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Summary of Legal Protection

Dormice are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) and are a European Protected Species. Together the legislation makes it an offence to:

  • Deliberately kill, injure or capture a dormouse
  • Destroy, damage or obstruct a dormouse resting place or breeding site, intentionally or recklessly
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a dormouse while it is occupying a structure or place of shelter or protection

Surveys, Impact Assessment and Mitigation

Our professional ecologists can help ensure your project is designed and implemented in compliance with the legal protections for dormice, improving the chances of successfully gaining planning permission while minimising the scope for impacts on this elusive species. Our survey services include:

  • Habitat suitability assessments
  • Gnawed hazel nut searches
  • Nest tube surveys
  • Post-construction monitoring

Following the completion of appropriately designed surveys, we carry out impact assessments and advise on design alterations to retain important features – interlinked woodland and hedgerow – integrated within the site where possible. Alternatively we can advise on mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures to ensure there are no long term impacts on species survival. Sometimes this can involve the creation of new habitats and/or translocations to suitable habitats away from the development site. Once planning permission has been granted, we can also assist with gaining the necessary licence permissions from Natural England.

We’ve carried out dormouse surveys on schemes of all sizes and assisted numerous clients in successfully gaining planning permission while complying with legal protections for dormice. Our ecology team operates throughout the UK, although our core area includes Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and London.

Ecological Surveys

Impact Assessments

Environmental Planning


Biodiversity Net Gain