Quite rightly, the Government has extended the lockdown to at least 7 May 2020 to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and to protect our valuable NHS service. However, at some point, when it is safe to do so, there will be a gradual uplift of these measures. If the UK mirrors similar strategies implemented by other EU countries, it is highly likely that construction will be an industry that is given priority in order to boost our economy and provide job security for construction workers and those linked to a massive supply chain that also relies so heavily on this sector.
In preparation for the relaxation of lockdown measures, these businesses will now be reviewing their strategies in order to recommence works on projects that have been placed on pause.
This resumption of works means that farmers and land owners will be reviewing land with development potential. Architects will be reviewing projects to secure planning permission, and construction firms will be determining when they can get back on site, and suppliers we be trying to predict when to expect orders to be placed!
As ecologists we have been fortunate that ecological, habitat, arboricultural and flood risk surveying services were recognised very early on as being an essential part of the services needed to keep the country running. Having obtained confirmation of this from DEFRA, we have been working in accordance to guidelines and have continued to carry out field based and desk surveys.
As attention begin to refocus and turn more towards planning for the future, we are beginning to get a number of questions from clients asking for advice on how to prioritise projects in order to design their year ahead in relation to what projects they can resume or start planning.
When the lock down was first announced on 23 March, there was an immediate reaction to cease all works. Indeed, many companies introduced group wide policies to not allow any workers on site. Naturally they were cautious about the risks to the health and safety of their key workers as well as any reputational damage caused from potentially being seen to force people to work.
Now, faced with a further three weeks of lockdown, emotions are beginning to settle and guidance on what works are permissible is much clearer. We are therefore beginning to see customers take tentative steps and ask lots of questions regarding how to prioritise projects they’ve put on hold in order to begin a resumption of works.
Much of this advice depends on their stage in the planning and development process and relate to habitats that involves protected species.
As part of this consultative service, we have been able to provide an assessments which we present in easy to understand formats that enable decision making based on criteria that evaluates a project and helps to prioritise works so they can be staggered in a logical order. Our assessment shows how to identify the quick wins that have the potential to be done easily and highlights projects that will have the favourable impact on productivity.
Due to hibernation and breeding seasons, some surveys only have a short survey window, and missing this window in 2020 could potentially delay the start of vital building projects that may affect the speed at which businesses and the economy can recover in future.
If we can help you prioritise the re-start of planning or work on projects you have placed on hold, please get in touch.