Ecology surveys, Great Western Route Modernisation

The brief

As part of Network Rail’s Great Western Route Modernisation project ABC Electrification is delivering the electrification of the railway between Bristol and Cardiff, which includes gauge clearance works to tunnels and bridges, and creating access points. Thomson Ecology was commissioned to provide all the ecological support including survey work, consultancy and any mitigation required. The 80km stretch of railway to be developed crosses, or is adjacent to, seven UK protected sites and eleven locally protected sites. Features along the route have potential to support bats, badgers, reptiles, breeding birds, water vole, otter, white-clawed crayfish, protected plant and invertebrate species and there are stands of invasive plants.

What we did

  • A review of existing ecology reports commissioned by Network Rail to identify where further surveys are required and how this ties into ABC Electrification’s work programme.
  • Extended Phase 1 habitat surveys of more than 30 proposed compounds, storage and works sites where major works are planned to establish potential ecological constraints including protected species and invasive species.
  • Presence or likely absence surveys for bats at 82 structures, great crested newt presence / absence surveys at 15 water bodies, water vole and otter surveys covering over 23km of bankside habitat and 12 badger sett assessments.
  • Provision of nine dedicated PTS certified ecologists based in Cardiff providing vital on-site ecological supervision and watching briefs to check for breeding birds and reptiles during works.
  • Training provided for ABC Electrification’s ground works supervisors to give them the knowledge to manage a situation if they find a protected species on site.

Recommendations and outcomes

Thomson Ecology continues to work with ABC Electrification as the scheme develops and provide ecological advice and consultation in a timely manner. The results of surveys are shared with Network Rail and other contractors working on the scheme.

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