Since winter 2012, our East Anglia office has been undertaking a range of ecological surveys as part of a nationally important strategic road improvement scheme, including surveys for wintering and breeding birds, great crested newts and bats.
Earlier this year, the proposed A14 toll road and road improvement scheme, between Cambridge and Huntingdon, was given the green light by the Government in a bid to unlock jobs, housing and growth in the region, as well as providing key relief for a major freight route. The scheme includes the provision of a new dual carriageway to the south of Huntingdon and widening of the existing A14 between Fen Drayton and Fen Ditton.
The scale of the project has necessitated the co-ordination of a complex programme of surveys at the appropriate time of year. In spring, pond surveys were undertaken for great crested newts and a population of at least 75 individuals was found in one small cluster of ponds!
A combination of survey techniques have been used to establish the importance of the area for bats over the summer. Manual transects and static monitoring points along likely commuting routes, coupled with detailed climb-and-inspect tree surveys were employed.
Emergence and re-entry surveys are also planned.
Wintering bird surveys comprising both daytime and night visits using night-vision equipment focused on wintering wading species such as golden plover and lapwing. Wildfowl, raptors and barn owl, all species of principal concern and most likely to be impacted by the construction of a new dual carriageway, were also recorded along with other notable species such as bittern. The night surveys helped identify sites used by roosting birds. In late spring a modified Common Bird Census was undertaken at three strategic sites along the route, including Buckden Pits County Wildlife Site.