A project to replace 2 km of overhead powerlines with underground connections is nearing completion in the Peak District – a collaboration between the National Grid and nine specialists businesses in the RSK Group.
Conserving and protecting the National Park area was imperative to the success of the project. The site was situated within and next to the Wogden Foot Local Wildlife Site, which is a known nesting habitat of endangered bird species. As a result, a portion of the work focused on the ecological enhancement of these areas of the site, so they were suited to these species, and ensuring the birds were undisturbed.
Conservation of the surrounding environment and its unique biodiversity was achieved with an 18% biodiversity net gain. This has been achieved by a baseline level of 10% secured through off-site planting in nearby areas and a further 8% through on-site gains. The additional 8% was gained by utilising the expertise of arboriculturists, ecologists, habitat managers and landscape architects to find opportunities and solutions. The opportunities identified included reducing the need for tree felling by preserving healthy vegetation, planting stronger trees across the site and seed harvesting to conserve the seedbank for replanting.
RSK Environment’s Principal Environmental and Consents Manager and RSK’s project manager on site Georgina King said:
“The delivery of 18% biodiversity net gain on this project is of vital significance in protecting and enhancing the natural landscape of our National Parks. We are continually learning how to apply in practice the new biodiversity net gain legislation. Achieving nearly double the legislated level demonstrates the impact of this policy on the ground and how much we can do to enhance our natural landscapes when delivering important development works.
This project is also significant as it was able to successfully secure the nesting sites of local willow tit populations, which is a red-listed species. Due to the presence of such an important species in the area, extra care was taken to find solutions that would protect its habitat. This included retaining parts of felled trees that had features that support willow tits in nesting. These branches were then grafted to the remaining trees, so that birds could continue to nest in the area.”
Senior Environmental Advisor at Morgan Sindall Claire Briggs said:
“Peak East was a challenging project with numerous environmental risks and requirements. The breadth of services provided by RSK allowed us to tackle the project in the most streamlined way possible, and the agility of the teams to work collaboratively, share information and respond to additional scope, changing programmes and delivery requirements often at very short notice, exceeded our expectations. We have ultimately managed to deliver a quality project in an extremely sensitive location, leaving behind a positive legacy in this area for generations to come.”
Seeds collected at the beginning of the project will be scattered as the project enters its final stage, to ensure the site is returned to its original condition and to help the natural biodiversity of the area recover.