Most developments will not require an NVC survey, although the local planning authority may occasionally require more detailed botanical surveys to be carried out before allowing a development to go ahead.
NVC surveys may be requested when a development will have an impact upon a protected site such as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). However, if you are asked to commission an NVC survey it is essential that you use a qualified botanist or plant ecologist to carry out the work rather than someone who just has a general knowledge of ecology. Suitable botanists will normally members of the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI).
The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) was commissioned by the Nature Conservancy Council (NVC) in 1975. The aim of the project was to produce a comprehensive classification and descriptions of all British plant communities.
The NVC is a phytosociological classification which requires extremely accurate descriptions of the original vegetation, including all of the principle grasses, sedges, mosses, liverworts and lichens.
NVC surveys can only be undertaken by experienced botanists who are capable of recognising all of the plant species that may be present. Mire communities are amongst the most challenging of all plant communities to recognise because they are defined by the presence of various Sphagnum mosses. NVC surveys will often be required for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and may be essential for drawing up management plans.
A poorly prepared NVC survey can readily be challenged at a Public Inquiry, so make sure you use a reputable surveyor. DCE Ltd has been carrying out such surveys since the early 1990s.