Biodiversity and Ecology

We commit to positively engage with local authorities to promote biodiversity and ecological enhancement initiatives connected with our proposed developments.

New sites have undergone ecology surveys and, where necessary, detailed environmental impact assessments and habitat surveys to ensure we build with due regard to the local environment.

 

Creating sustainable communities for both now and the future means ensuring that we protect, conserve and enhance the environments in which we operate. 

Biodiversity & Ecology Surveys

For all of our individual site planning applications, where biodiversity and ecology need to be considered, we undertake a phase 1 desktop risk assessment. If the phase 1 Ecology Survey identifies any sensitive ecological issues we then look to undertake further ecological surveys in order to understand the overall impact and how this might shape the overall design of the site. If we are required to provide or implement any associated mitigation we will do so prior to, or during, the construction process.

On sites where biodiversity impacts are significant, we may need to carry out a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). To determine whether this is required, we submit a ‘screening option’ to the Local Authority. This process allows us to take into consideration the environmental impacts of the development and take the necessary actions as advised by specialists.

Where required we carry out Habitat Surveys in order to ensure we do not affect protected species such as bats, reptiles, newts, birds and badgers.

Examples of our current measures to protect the biodiversity of our sites include:

  • Provision of bat boxes
  • Relocation of badger sets
  • Migration of newts to new habitats
  • Tree retention and improved woodland/grasslands
  • Construction of ponds on-site and off-site for both drainage purposes and to support and promote biodiversity

We also contribute financially to assist in the protection of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), such as the Thames Basin SPA. Here, Bellway’s commitment has secured the provision of alternative sites for leisure and dog walking, thereby reducing pressure on protected habitats.

Percentage of homes developed on Brownfield Sites

Sustainable Development

Recent planning reforms, including the National Planning Policy Framework published in 2012, have placed a greater emphasis on the delivery of sustainable development, not development at any cost. The National Planning Policy Framework introduced a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ to ensure that local planning authorities identify and plan for the development which their areas need, and to make clear that applications that will deliver sustainable development should normally be allowed.

In 2015/16 62% of our new homes were built on brownfield land. The redevelopment of brownfield land can help to improve the local environment as well as having a positive effect on the local community, helping to reduce crime, increase local employment and create green spaces. 

 

 

Number of trees planted

Green Spaces

The provision of open spaces and the planting of trees and shrubs not only improves drainage and biodiversity opportunities, it also provides customers with the opportunity to use and enjoy such spaces in the vicinity of their new homes. In 2015/16 we planted over 195,400 trees and shrubs (averaging 22.4 per home built).

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study

Slow Worms

Ecology Mitigation

An ecological survey undertaken at the former ITV studios at Culverhouse (Cardiff) identified an existing population of reptiles - Slow Worms. Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, for development to take place the slow worms had to be either protected or relocated.

Existing conditions at the site were such that retaining a reptile habitat within the development was not possible. An adjacent plot of land was identified as an alternative habitat given as it was in close proximity to the development site and the excellent dispersal corridors to grassland and scrub habitats in the surrounding area.

Soltys Brewster Ecology prepared a reptile mitigation strategy which was agreed with the local planning authority and incorporated the following elements:

  • Removal of above ground vegetation within the development footprint to a height of c.50mm.
  • Installation of temporary exclusion fencing within the development footprint to enclose the areas where reptiles have been identified and ‘fix’ the number to be translocated.
  • Habitat enhancement measures at the alternative site including the retention of a 5m wide field margin; infrequent cutting of grassland habitat and creation of log piles in field corners & margins.
River Darent

River Darent Biodiversity

Extensive works were required along the western boundary of the River Darent in Dartford, London, as part of our Priory Mills development, including reducing the height of the river wall, re-profiling and planting of the river bank and the construction of a number of viewing platforms along the river boundary.

The overriding issue was to prevent any waste or pollutants from entering the water course and a surface water control system (in accordance with the Environmental Agency’s pollution prevention guidelines) was put into place on the site. When removing the river wall, a Thames barge was positioned along the site boundary and the wall broken out in sections so that any concrete that became dislodged fell into the barge as opposed to the river itself.

The construction of the new river bank included a berm adjacent to the river wall as well as a swale to improve flood defences to the properties being built on the site. The embankment was bio-engineered in order to provide new habitats for local wildlife and plant life and viewing platforms provided to enhance the amenity spaces for the development.

Ecology Mitigation

Green Space

A development of 80 homes at Bransgore, in the heart of the New Forest, while on a brownfield site, is within a designated greenbelt area. In order to mitigate against the possible loss of greenspace, we are providing just over 4.5 hectares of SANG (suitable alternative natural greenspace) complete with associated footpaths and a play area trim trail. This SANG area will be open to the general public prior to the occupation of the residential units.

 

Ecology Mitigation

A development of 120 homes in Poole was located on a former land fill site that had since become populated with several protected species of reptile - Slow Worms, Sand Lizards and Smooth Snake. As part of the residential development, a nature conservation area was created in order to house the translocated reptiles with reptile protection fencing erected. The process of reptile translocation has now seen approximately 7000 reptiles relocated into the new nature conservation area.

 

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