Only one in four councils employ in-house ecological experts

EXCLUSIVE: Only 26% of English councils employed in-house ecological experts in 2018, an investigation by ENDS has found.

ENDS’ findings, published this week, were obtained following a freedom of information (FOI) request to all 353 councils in England, to which 307 authorities provided responses.

READ MORE: Capacity crunch: do councils have the expertise to deliver their biodiversity goals?

The figures show a slight uptick in ecological experts employed by councils between 2013 and 2018 - the number of chartered and non-chartered ecological experts employed by the authorities that responded to our FOI request was 142 in 2018, up from 124 in 2013. 

But the figures also show that only 16% of councils employed experts with chartered status in ecology in 2018.

The RSPB’s head of sustainable development, Simon Marsh, said it was concerning that so many authorities lack staff who have achieved chartered status.

He said: “It is a big concern they do not have that sort of expertise, but it does not surprise me at all.”

ENDS’ findings paint a similar picture to research carried out by the Association for Local Government Ecologists (ALGE), which in a report in 2013 found that only one-in-three councils had access to in-house ecological expertise.

At the time, ALGE said: “An average capacity of only one ecologist for every three local planning authorities in England would appear to be inadequate to deal with the relevant workload”.

To see ENDS findings in full click here.

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