Principal Ecologist

Devon County Council

Exeter, Devon
£37,336 - £41,418 pa

Paid • Full Time • Permanent

Sectors: ecology

Closing date: Wednesday, 29th May 2024  


We are looking to appoint a highly motivated and experienced Ecologist to join our small friendly Ecology Team.

Devon County Council’s Ecology Team sits within the interdisciplinary Environment Group at County Hall in Exeter and works across Devon. The Group includes specialists working on climate, landscape, ecology, coast, marine, flooding, and historic environment. We host the Exe Estuary Partnership, Devon Maritime Forum, Local Nature Partnership, two Protected Landscapes and the North Devon Biosphere Partnership.

The Ecology Team is leading on a range of new initiatives including rolling out Biodiversity Net Gain across Devon (we were the first county to register a Habitat Bank!) and working with a team of wildlife experts and delivery partners to develop the Devon Local Nature Recovery Strategy. We lead and coordinate the Devon Local Nature Partnership. We provide expert advice within Devon County Council and for other Devon Local Planning Authorities including Dartmoor National Park Authority and are involved in a wide range of initiatives and partnerships across the county.

We are working on a vast range of initiatives with a vast range of partners - we need your help!

This post provides a fantastic opportunity to work at the heart of key national initiatives and to gain invaluable experience of working for Local Authorities in a huge, ecologically varied, and beautiful county.

The post holder is expected to be in the Exeter office for at least 2 days a week and be able to attend site visits across Devon at short notice.

Key areas of work will include:

Provision of specialist ecological planning advice: The post holder will work closely with planners, developers, ecological consultants, and others (Natural England, NGOs, researchers) on all aspects of wildlife and planning. This will include advising on protected and priority species and habitats, quarry restoration schemes, undertaking monitoring, delivering Biodiversity Net Gain, providing training, and developing Guidance and Strategies.

We are looking for an ecologist who will work proactively and pragmatically with partners to develop innovative approaches and guidance which result in better outcomes for wildlife and the planning process.

Provision of specialist ecological advice within Devon County Council: This will involve working across the Council and include providing specialist advice relating to the Council’s Estate (Life on the Verge, highways maintenance, County Farms, Habitat Banks), advising on DCC (Devon County Council) infrastructure schemes (road and cycle schemes, waste sites, schools) and woodland creation schemes. Depending on experience, work could include specialist species and habitat surveys, monitoring, producing habitat management plans and farm wildlife plans.

Providing support and training: The successful candidate will work closely with the County Ecologist, Principal Ecologist and Senior Ecologist to provide training and support to other team members and partners. There are likely to be opportunities to line manage other team members.

Lead on specific areas of work: There will be opportunities to take the lead on various areas of work. Depending on skills and team needs this could be a mix of themes, geography (leading work in a particular part of the county) and partnerships.

Specialist input to other Nature Recovery Projects and Partnerships: Depending on the interests and expertise of the post holder, and priorities within the team, there will be opportunities to get involved in a wide range of other nature recovery work. A few examples include:

  • Helping to develop and implement the Devon Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
  • Helping to develop and support Local Nature Partnership initiatives e.g. Green Finance and Dark Skies.
  • Contributing to a wide range of other initiatives and projects such as Devon County Wildlife Sites monitoring (funded by DCC and DWT), HLF Projects, Landscape Recovery Projects, Protected Landscape Management Plans and Nature Plans etc.
  • Representing DCC on partnerships such as Protected Landscape Wildlife Groups, North Devon Biosphere Wildlife Group, Devon Biodiversity Records Centre Executive etc.

You will need (please see the Job Description for other essential and desirable skills):

  • Understanding and experience of planning and wildlife, including legislation and policy, survey and impact assessments, mitigation and monitoring, Biodiversity Net Gain, HRA, European Protected Species (particularly bats and dormice).
  • Understanding and experience of nature conservation in the Devon context, including a broad knowledge of species and habitats (including habitat survey and condition assessment, creation, restoration, and management).
  • Strong people and networking skills. Is happy to work with a wide range of people and partners.
  • A knowledge of the organisations and partnerships involved in nature conservation and planning and experience of collaborative working.
  • Be an EPS licence holder (particularly bats and dormice) or willing and able to obtain licences quickly.
  • Good botanical knowledge (minimum of FISC level 3 eq.)
  • Strong verbal reasoning skills and able to present complex ecological and legislative issues in plain English for non-experts.
  • Able to listen to diverse and conflicting views and negotiate positive outcomes for wildlife.
  • Ability to think strategically and creatively, see the bigger picture and take the initiative in developing new ways of working with partners.
  • Line management experience is useful but not essential.

The post holder will be expected to be (or become on starting the post) a full member of CIEEM.

If you have any questions about the post or want an informal chat please contact Sarah Jennings, County Ecologist on [email protected]

Internal Applicants, please note: If you are an existing DCC employee, please use your iTrent Employee Self Service (ESS) details to log in and apply.  

Closing date: 29th May 2024

Interview Date: 5th June 2024 

What we can offer you

  • Working for Devon County Council has all the benefits that you can expect from a large employer. In return for the vital contribution that you make, we offer:
  • 26 days annual leave per year (rising with length of service) plus Bank Holidays effective from 1 April 2023
  • Membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme - more information can be found on the Peninsular Pensions website
  • Access to our confidential Employee Assistance Programme – available 24/7 to support you with personal and work life
  • Flexible working opportunities, including home-working (subject to the needs of the role)
  • Discounts from local and high street retailers through the Devon Discounts scheme
  • DCC embraces the positive benefits of a diverse workforce and is committed to providing an environment that is inclusive and safe. We welcome applications from people who share our commitment to stop discrimination, challenge inequality and promote diversity across Devon. More information can be found on our Equality and Diversity webpages.
  • Happy to Talk Flexible Working  - the Council offers flexible working arrangements in terms of when and where people work e.g., hybrid working, part-time, condensed hours etc
  • We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.
  • This role requires the ability to fulfil all spoken aspects of the role with confidence and fluency in English.


Find out more & apply