The A6MARR project has undertaken an extensive suite of ecological and environmental surveys, some of which are on-going, to ensure that appropriate control measures are implemented during construction to minimise the impact of the project on the ecology, environment and local residents.
Protected species are a key focus of our work during the construction of the scheme. Our work complies with national legislation and is undertaken in accordance with the various species specific ecological mitigation strategies which form part of the approved planning permission from the three local authorities.
A full time Environmental Manager, supported by a team of ecologists, is based on site throughout the construction works. The Environmental manager supports the Project Manager in ensuring that all ecological mitigation strategies are correctly implemented.
Environmental mitigation measures to be created and implemented on site
As part of the works, we are creating and implementing the following environmental mitigation measures on site:
- 11 habitat creation areas
- 21 newt ponds created, 3 ponds restored
- 6 barn owl boxes
- 35 bat boxes and bat hops
- 10 per hectare bird boxes
- Mammal tunnels
- 2 otter passages
- Acoustic fencing
- Tree and hedgerow planting
The landscape mitigation proposals that were submitted as part of the planning application for the scheme in October 2013 can be found on the A6MARR website.
The Soft Landscape Specification (PDF 58Kb) sets out the detailed operations required to establish all new planting and grasslands and maintain their species composition.
Site clearance works
All site clearance works are controlled by the Ecological Permit to Work system which captures any specific requirements detailed within the various species Mitigation Strategies and any licence requirements for protected species. All areas subject to site clearance are assessed by an ecologist prior to any works commencing to identify any ecological restrictions identified during survey works and to ensure there has been no change. Any restricted areas are being clearly marked out as “out of bounds” – this includes any trees or hedgerows with nests and those identified as being potential bat roosts.
All ecological restrictions are detailed upon the Ecological Permit to Work which is briefed to the site clearance teams by the ecologist prior to works commencing. Where deemed necessary the clearance works are undertaken under an Ecological Watching Brief in line with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) guidelines. These actions are all undertaken in accordance with the various species specific ecological mitigation strategies which form part of the approved planning permission from the three local authorities.
Should any nests be encountered they will be cordoned off and monitored by the ecologist on site, works will not re-commence within the cordoned area until the chicks have fledged. Trees identified as being potential bat roosts will not be felled until a permit from Natural England is in place. Once the licence has been received trees will be inspected by an ecologist and soft felled as detailed within the licence. Soft felling of trees involves climbing the tree and removing branches one at a time. The branches are lowered to the ground via a rope system. Once on the ground the branches are inspected by the Ecologist to check for the presence of bats.
All badger sett closures are to be carried out under a licence issued from Natural England. Up to three main setts will be closed as a result of the A6MARR scheme, these will only be closed after a replacement sett has been built and the badgers will be encouraged to use the replacement setts. The permanent works includes the installation of badger fencing. The primary purpose of this fencing is to prevent access to the live carriageway and “funnel” the badgers towards the proposed mammal tunnels.
Ecological surveys have identified the presence of Great Crested Newts (GCN) in locations across the site. The GCN mitigation measures being implemented are approved and licenced by Natural England and are part of the Planning Conditions for the scheme. The mitigation measures include the installation of GCN fencing in locations where GCN have been identified followed by a period of trapping and translocation of the GCN to alternative habitats.
The scheme involves the loss of 0.08 hectares of a total of 2.3 hectares of Ancient Woodland at Carr Wood. We recognise the need to be particularly sensitive when clearing this 0.08 hectare area of Ancient Woodland. Our mitigation measures for this area take into account the presence of protected species which have been identified during ecological surveys undertaken prior to construction work commencing.
The Ancient Woodland outside of the development footprint has been fenced off and is out of bounds except for tree trunk relocation. This is to minimise the impact of potential additional footfall damaging and destroying the ground cover within the Ancient Woodland which often comprise of rare species. Trees within the Ancient Woodland that are felled are to be left in situ where they have been felled for 2 days to allow any invertebrates and fungi spores to move out of the trunk. The trunks are then to be moved to within the remaining Ancient Woodland to add to the existing habitats – creating a deadwood area which is hugely beneficial to fungi and invertebrates.