The most visited article on the CGO Ecology website is this one: "Ecology reports needed for all planning applications." It was written in August 2010, at a time when local authorities in Dorset were becoming more rigorous in their demands for ecological assessment prior to developments, however small.

Three years on, people are still evidently Googling "ecology report" and similar phrases a lot, as our article still gets quite a few hits every day, and it remains high in search rankings. The reason? Across the UK, thousands of people are making planning applications for house extensions, new roofs, new builds etc, and their Local Planning Authority has told them they need an ecology report.

As a nation we generally appreciate wildlife, but understandably most people don't know what an ecology report is, and are unfamiliar with the legal necessities of the planning process. So they do an internet search, and arrive at the website of an ecological consultancy company such as us. You may even be one of those people, in which case we hope you've come to the right place. To the uninitiated, the choices might seem mind-boggling, and as you don't quite know what you're asking someone to provide you with, you may well find it daunting.

An "ecology report" is a simple way of saying that you need to get some expert advice on the ecological impacts of your proposed development. In other words: will it harm any wildlife or their habitats? And if so, how can the impacts be reduced? It also highlights any legally-protected wildlife issues you need to consider.

CGO Ecology is one of many companies that offer this sort of service. We pride ourselves in giving honest, pragmatic, expert advice to meet the needs of the non-expert. We do a good job, quickly and effectively, at a competitive price.

So if you find yourself needing an ecology report for a planned development or other project that may affect wildlife interests, look no further. The usual service for small developments is a "Phase 1 ecological survey", which involves a site visit followed by a report that you can submit to planning. This would highlight any issues that need further (Phase 2) surveys, and/or recommend precautions or enhancements you could incorporate into your plans.

For minor work like roof extensions, you might need a bat survey or simply a bat assessment, followed by a short report or negative certificate to show the planning authority. A preliminary ecological assessment of a property is also possible, with a call-out and short report costing as little as £100 plus VAT. All in all, when you compare the price of an ecology report with the cost of a project, it is rarely more than a tiny fraction.

CGO Ecology Ltd operates all over the UK, and as well as experienced ecologists who can travel at short notice, we have a network of local experts in all areas. In 2013 we have worked the length and breadth of Britain, working on projects as diverse as housing, railways, quarries, solar farms and protected species research.

One final piece of advice: read the report you have paid for, or at least read the summary and recommendations section. It might come back to bite you if the planners read it, but you don't!