Ecological impact assessment

A14 road improvements in Cambridgeshire

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Since winter 2012, our East Anglia office has undertaken a range of ecological surveys as part of a nationally important strategic road improvement scheme, including wintering and breeding bird surveys, great crested newt surveys and bat surveys for an ecological impact assessment.

The proposed A14 toll road and A14 road improvement scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon was first considered in 2010 and then again in 2013, in a bid to unlock jobs, housing and growth in the region, as well as providing key relief for a major freight route. An application for Development Consent was made following a six-month consultation exercise and the Planning Inspectorate gave it the green light. However, this £1.9bn scheme will take many years to fully materialise. The scheme includes provision of new dual carriageway to the west of Cambridge, widening of the existing A14 between Fen Drayton and Fen Ditton, as well as localised new road construction and improvements. Some of the works would bisect Buckden Pits County Wildlife Site.

Drainage ditch

The Ecology Consultancy’s East Anglia office undertook a range of ecological surveys as part of the Ecological Impact Assessment for this project, including wintering and breeding bird surveys, great crested newt surveys and bat surveys. A combination of survey techniques, using latest advances in bat detection equipment, were 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 building and trees assessments, were employed. A schedule of climb-and-inspect tree surveys and roost emergence and re-entry surveys was also prepared.

Wintering bird surveys, sometimes with the aid of 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.

We reported the presence of European and nationally protected species, including bats, birds and great crested newt and identified key sites for birds and bats within the scheme footprint. We provided detailed baseline conditions to enable a comprehensive Ecological Impact Assessment to determine the likely effects of the scheme on wildlife.

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