The Ecology Consultancy was appointed to join the team preparing the Environmental Statement (ES) for BAA’s proposed Airtrack scheme that will provide a direct train link from London Waterloo to Heathrow Terminal 5.
The proposed route north of Staines has potential impacts on Staines Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest, and on populations of wintering wildfowl, for which the nearby South West London Waterbodies Special Protection Area (SPA) has been designated. In addition, the scheme potentially affects a range of protected species including bats, great crested newt, water vole, otter and reptiles.
Baseline surveys carried out by the Ecology Consultancy included surveys for all of the species above as well as for terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and breeding and wintering birds. River Corridor Surveys and Phase 2 botanical (National Vegetation Classification) surveys were also conducted.
Potential effects on gadwall and shoveler (the SPA qualifying species) were identified so we provided further data to assess the areas that might provide significant supporting habitat outside the SPA. Night time bird surveys were also required by Natural England, and these were conducted twice monthly between December and March in 2008 and October and March in 2009, using infrared night vision equipment and a 1 million candlepower clulite torch with a red filter. The numbers and locations of qualifying species were mapped on each occasion. This data will be used to provide information for a Habitats Regulations Assessment of effects on the SPA.
The Ecology Consultancy has been involved in the scheme since October 2007 and has had a key role in options appraisals of proposed routes, which has resulted in minimal direct impacts on the SSSI. We wrote the ecology chapter of the ES and contributed to the production of the Code of Construction Practice and other documents related to the ES.