Linear projects present unique environmental challenges
A 26km HVDC cable route which included the formation of a 20m wayleave, installation of an access road, the excavation of a cable trench, horizontal directional drilling and the restoration of the area to pre-project land use. The route crossed several habitat types dominated by agricultural land use with occasional areas of peat, with numerous watercourse crossings varying from CAR registrations to minor watercourses. The route skirted one European and several national/locally designated sites. The project was subject to permitted development status therefore no planning conditions were attached to the project; however, a voluntary EIA was completed to identify environmental constraints. A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) was created by the principle contractor which described the methods that they would use to mitigate environmental impacts associated with the project. A method statement for working in proximity to the European designated site was also included, this provided confidence that the project did not need to undertake a Habitat Regulations Appraisal (HRA).
Auditing Environmental Clerk of Works Scope
As the client’s representative, the auditing environmental clerk of works scope was to inspect/audit the projects compliance to project documentation and legislation and report to the client’s environmental manager and site management teams. Deliverables included a weekly inspection report and a monthly audit. Environmental constraints associated with the project;
- Water management and pollution control
- Waste management
- Protected species
- Materials management
The auditing environmental clerk of works provided the client with a level of due diligence and reassurance that activities were being undertaken as per the project documentation. The Environmental Clerk of Works also reported any non-compliance and ensured it was dealt with in line with the client’s procedures. The audits and inspections also provides the project with information on areas of required improvement which can direct the content of tool box talks.
92km open cut pipeline – Cumbria
Naturally Compliant were commissioned by the client to provide Environmental Consultancy resource to this significant infrastructure project running adjacent to and through the Lake District National Park. In addition to other services, this included a full ecological service remit;
- Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey
- Ecological Reports/ Management documents
- Protected Species Survey
- Protected Species Mitigation
- Habitat Enhancement
- Stakeholder Liaison
- Invasive Non-Native Species Survey
- Invasive Non-Native Species Mitigation
To allow the creation of a site and project specific ecological management plan as part of the wider Environmental Control Plan (also known as a Construction Environmental Management Plan), Naturally Compliant undertook an update extended phase 1 habitat survey of the entire route in line with Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) guidelines1. This included identification of sensitive and priority habitats, presence or signs of protected species and any other features of interest. Using this information Naturally Compliant worked closely with our client to establish where potential constraints were and what project appropriate mitigation was required. With this information Naturally Compliant supported the delivery of an ecological management plan that mitigated ecological constraints whilst being practical enough to allow the client to deliver the project. This included acting on the client’s behalf when liaising with the developer and statutory authorities, providing reassurance that the project would be delivered in an ecologically sensitive and compliant way while managing stakeholder expectations.
In line with the agreed ecological management plan Naturally compliant coordinated the ecological mitigation detailed. This included surveys and or mitigation for protected or notable species including;
- Great Crested Newts
- Birds – Including Schedule 1 Species
- Red Squirrel
- Invasive Non-Native Species
Within this phase of the works, Naturally Compliant were responsible for undertaking or coordinating works under 4 European protected species licences (1xGCN 3xBat), climbing hundreds of trees to inspect for potential bat roost features in accordance with the BCT guidelines. Pre-construction checks of several hundred features for nesting birds and reptiles, numerous water course crossings whilst coordinating several fish rescues using electro fishing techniques. Regular surveys for red squirrel and badger prior to commencement of works.
The identification of and mitigation of areas of invasive species including Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed while also providing advice and monitoring good practice in conjunction with am invasive species specialist while working in water courses with known populations of American Signal Crayfish.
Given the fluid nature of the construction project and mobility of some protected species, Naturally Compliant staff provided ongoing advice, training and monitoring resource to the client to allow them to make informed decisions.
Post Construction and reinstatement
The Environmental Control Plan detailed how the working area would be reinstated once works had been completed, it also identified potential for biodiversity net gain and habitat enhancement. Naturally Compliant provided advice on best practice with regard to implementation, including planting schedules, hedgerow, woodland and meadow seed mix species composition.
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