It was smiles all round in Manchester last week at the Association of Noise Consultants Awards ceremony when it was revealed that we had won not one, but both categories which we had been shortlisted for.
The Ecology Consultancy, in collaboration with our sister company Temple, BSG Ecology, the University of Bristol, and High Speed 2 Ltd, submitted an entry for the ANC Awards for our joint research investigating the use of acoustic deterrents as a bat mitigation strategy. Our submission went on to win two awards:
- the Innovation Award
- joint winner of the Environmental Acoustics in Infrastructure Award.
Our research was initiated as part of a novel approach to mitigation measures required to protect woodland bats, in particular Bechstein’s bats, which are present in the Bernwood Forest area along part of the High Speed 2 (HS2) Phase 1 railway.
Working together to carry out the research were: Charlotte Wevill, Steph Murphy and Jon Riley of The Ecology Consultancy, Pete Shepherd of BSG Ecology, Lia Gilmour and Professor Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, Nigel Burton and Dani Fuimicelli of Temple, and our colleagues from High Speed 2 Ltd.
Jointly, the team created, devised and implemented robust scientific research to identify and quantify the impact and effectiveness of acoustic outputs on bats using flightlines and, in particular, tunnel structures. The research was designed to use acoustic outputs to deter bats from areas in order to protect them from risk of injury or death. The research also studied directing acoustic outputs on to defined areas with no spillage into non-target areas thereby ensuring there was negligible impacts on bats and other wildlife in the wider landscape.
In addition to this, we strongly believe that acoustics can also be used to enhance the effectiveness of mitigation. Rather than simply excluding bats from a targeted area, we believe we can use acoustic outputs to divert bats along new and safe flightlines to roosting and foraging areas. This finding and hypothesis arose from our work on ensuring levels of bat behaviour in the vicinity of acoustic deterrents remain the same. In order to do so, we assessed and adapted the sound emitted by acoustic deterrents to maximise its effectiveness in prompting localised and predictable changes in bat flight behaviour.
In the case of the HS2 project, ongoing research is being carried out to establish the potential for acoustic deterrents to guide bats to use connecting measures such as linear planting and built structures (such as bridges and underpasses) provided to mitigate the fragmentation of bat habitat and commuting routes caused by linear infrastructure. Should the results of our further investigations be positive, acoustic management of bats could possibly become a new and widely applicable approach.
Dr Peter Shepherd, Partner at BSG Ecology, said “It is a real pleasure to be working in collaboration with fellow consultants, a leading University department and acoustic experts, all committed to developing effective mitigation measures for some of our rarest bat species. The interface between practical ecological expertise, acoustic engineering design and academic discipline and expertise has been hugely enlightening and essential to making this a successful project”.
The Association of Noise Consultants Awards, which promote and recognise excellence amongst UK acoustic consultants, look for examples of work that display innovation and originality in acoustic design or approach to a particular project. They highlight the unique skills of UK-based acoustic and noise professionals, and the dynamic and diverse nature of the industry overall, to inspire the next generation of acoustic consultants. The full list of the 2019 Award winners along with the shortlisted entrants can be viewed here.