ESS was established in April 1995 and soon won its first contract SNH’s Moorland and Montane Cairngorms Survey Programme, which ran in two stages, starting in 1995 and completed in 1997. National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys were undertaken across vast swathes of montane and moorland habitats, filling gaps in previous NVC coverage, and Habitat Impact Assessments were made by applying a suite of indicators to assess the impacts of deer, sheep and burning upon vegetation. The second year of our commission completed the baseline of the soon to be established Cairngorms National Park, and with statistician David Sales we conducted a replication study which assessed the repeatability of the survey methodology.
ESS’s second commission was also with Scottish Natural Heritage in 1995-96. Director Paul Gill researched and wrote as senior author the then authoritative Review of Impacts of Wind Farms and other Aerial Structures upon Birds (Gill, Townsley & Mudge 1996), published as Scottish Natural Heritage’s SNH Review No. 21.
From 1999-2000 ESS worked with Landscape Design Associates and Renewable Energy Systems developing good practice guidelines for the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) to assess the cumulative effects of wind turbines on birds (CEWT), through critical review of evidence, workshops consultation with stakeholders and by corresponding with an expert advisory group.
In 2009 ESS Director Paul Gill was a member of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), pilot Renewables Expert Support Network, providing advice to councils. Under this pilot programme and working closely with the Centre for Sustainable Energy he wrote the Technical Guidance Note for Planners on Birds & Wind Farms.