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Chapelton of Elsick Sustainable Community

Chapelton of Elsick will be an innovative sustainable community designed to meet the requirement for new homes in the Portlethen – Stonehaven corridor within the Aberdeen City and Shire Structure Plan. Outline planning for 4,025 houses, and a detailed application for 800 in the first phase, has been submitted recently. Applied Ecology Ltd was appointed as ecological advisor on the project by the Elsick Development Company, a family controlled company, representing the Duke of Fife and neighbouring landowners.

Chapelton of Elsick

Chapelton of Elsick

The scope of ecological survey and assessment was agreed with statutory consultees including Scottish Natural Heritage, and Applied Ecology Ltd ecologists surveyed the development site and adjoining land areas for a range of ecological receptors including:

  • Habitats and higher plants – Phase 1 habitat map and National Vegetation Classification (NVC) assessment
  • Great crested newt – presence / absence survey of ponds
  • Badger – sett, field signs and territory mapping
  • Otter – survey of the Burn of Elsick and adjoining habitats
  • Red squirrel – hair-tube survey of woodland and tree belts
  • Water vole – Burn of Elsick and drainage ditches
  • Breeding & Wintering Birds – repeat visit surveys

Survey findings, anticipated ecological impacts and mitigation and enhancement measures were reported by Applied Ecology Ltd in an Environmental Statement (ES) chapter and associated Technical Annex document in relation to relevant National and Local planning policy. Given the scale of the development, SNH requested a detailed assessment of how badger groups occupying the site would be impacted, and we completed a badger bait-marking survey to determine the extent and location of badger social group territories within the local area. A mixture of peanuts, rolled oats, peanut butter and golden syrup, laced with coloured plastic food-quality beads (one colour per main sett) was fed daily over a three-week period to the four main setts within and close to the site boundary in early spring. Known badger latrines and new ones were searched for systematically on a daily basis, and their contents examined for the presence of coloured beads. In this way, the extent of each territory and the boundaries between them could be ascertained, and are shown by coloured areas in the figure below.

Badger Territories at Chapelton of Elsick