Environmental Surveys

Almost any new development will require an environmental survey to ascertain the impact of the development on local wildlife and habitats, such as badgers and other protected species and the roots of protected trees. In some cases a non-intrusive geophysical (GPR) survey might also be commissioned to supplement the survey.

KB GPR has experience in providing environmental surveys to map the extents of shallow tree roots, badger tunnels, and provide information about the ground without causing damage, prior to invasive surveys being commissioned.

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Why use GPR for environmental surveys?

GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) is a fully non-invasive and non-destructive method for determining information about the below surface environment. That makes it ideal for a first survey of an area with minimal environmental impact, before making a more serious investigation by breaking the ground.

How a GPR survey is performed

The GPR survey will be performed by bringing the equipment to site and moving the GPR across the surface in a series of regularly spaced scans in contact with the ground until the desired coverage of the survey area is achieved. To this end the GPR must be able to make unimpeded transits across the surface without encountering obstructions and the survey area will ideally have been cropped in advance of the survey with any obstructions cleared. It is possible to survey fields and flat areas, but woodlands are impractical, copses of trees or bushes will present obstructions leading to gaps in the data.

The GPR will either be towed behind a vehicle or pulled across the surface by hand.

Example GPR survey to detect badger tunnels

Badgers are protected species and as a result they must be respected and suffer no damage to their habitat during any development activities. In this case the contractor was aware of the presence of badgers and they wanted to map the extents of their tunnels, (as far as possible under difficult conditions) and verify that no tunnels were present in areas they intended to develop.

KB GPR was able to survey the area and show that the badger set extended away from the proposed development, whilst no tunnels could be detected in the proposed development area. This allowed the builder to receive planning consent.

Example GPR survey to map the lateral extents of surface tree roots

In another example, a GPR survey was performed along the treeline of a large field, we were able to clearly detect and image the surface tree roots. Which could then be avoided during a planned educational ‘dig’ for a university.

On the same ground we clearly imaged numerous mole tunnels just beneath the surface.

This survey was completed using our custom made GPR system towed behind our dedicated all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Limitations of GPR environmental surveys

Limitations of GPR environmental surveys

The penetration of a GPR will vary depending on the ground: on wet clay soils, penetration would be severely reduced, but some conditions such as the loose sandy soils favoured by badgers, are ideal for GPR performance which can then be several meters.

GPR works by transmitting a signal and recording reflections which are created by any change in the electromagnetic properties of the ground. In some utility surveys tree roots create problems because they can look very similar to pipes and can create clutter in the results – when the purpose of the survey is to map the extents of the surface roots this ‘problem’ can become an advantage.

Our GPR Surveys

Explore other applications our non-destructive GPR surveying services have been utilised for here.
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