For the 2017/18 Bellway financial year, we have set a range of targets across our three CR themes (Environment, Construction, and Society and Economy). We have prioritised these targets and published our top 12 priorities across the themes for this financial year. This approach allows for us to focus our efforts on the areas of greatest impact, while continuing to work internally on our additional targets.
Although we do not have a publicly published target for biodiversity and ecology this financial year, we are very much committed to the ongoing enhancement of this area of our business and will continue to pursue our non-published internal targets.
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:
We also contribute financially to assist in the protection of Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
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.
We build a proportion of our new homes on brownfield land and this redevelopment 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. We enhance the creation of green spaces through the planting of trees and shrubs, not only improving drainage and biodiversity opportunities, but also providing customers with the opportunity to use and enjoy such spaces in the vicinity of their new homes.
Outline planning for a development of up to 300 new homes was granted on a 15 hectare site of agricultural land situated to the north east of Hucknall in the Parish of Linby, Nottinghamshire. The River Leen abuts the eastern boundary of the site and forms part of the River Leen Wildlife Corridor, known to support water voles, protected aquatic invertebrates and a number of bat species.
An ‘ecology park’ will be created on approximately 4.76 hectares of land located to the north of the site. This will act as a fundamental part of the drainage strategy for the site and will also provide landscape screening for the proposed development, protecting views from both Linby and Hucknall across the existing Green Belt to the north of development.
The planned improvements are expected to allow increased access for recreational activities and enlarged/enhanced biodiversity areas. They will include:
To minimise the ecological impact of development of the 421 home Moorfields site, ‘off-site’ land at Mare’s Close, Seghill, was acquired to provide conservation and ecology value in addition to that being provided within the development.
Completed work at Mare’s Close has seen the creation of ‘scrapes’ with gently sloping edges that seasonally hold water and create infield wet features that are attractive to wildlife and provide insect-rich areas where birds can feed. Arable grassland and native flower seeding has been provided to encourage seed eating birds, and a species-rich hedgerow has also been created. Monitoring of the success of the ‘off-site’ bio-diversity land is ongoing. Early indication show a high numbers of birds foraging in the fields, including Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Grey Partridge and Meadow Pipits.
As well as this biodiversity off-setting, habitat enhancement initiatives were included in the Moorfields development to improve the site as a potential wildlife corridor linking nearby green spaces. Initiatives included berry and nectar sources for wildlife, provision of several hibernaculas to encourage hibernation of wildlife, provision of mammal gaps within the development to allow permeability for small mammals, erection of 50 bat boxes and 40 bird boxes in nearby woodland and installation of a wildlife tunnel to allow safe passage of mammals under the nearby dual carriageway. Alongside these enhancements, the SuDS ponds offer the opportunity for increased biodiversity through marginal and aquatic planting, and as a wet habitat for newts and invertebrates.
Ecological survey work carried at the Highfields development, Pontprennau, identified a population of Hazel Dormice in hedgerows within and immediately adjacent to the site. As dormice and their habitat are fully protected, Bellway commissioned Soltys Brewster Ecology to develop a detailed mitigation strategy.
The strategy, agreed with Natural Resources Wales and the local planning authority, included: