The dualling of the A465 is a key component of the Welsh Government’s transport plans to improve access, safety and the economy in the valleys and South Wales. We have been appointed by Costain as the environmental consultants for Section 2 of the Heads of the Valleys scheme; connecting the M4 and Swansea to the A40/M50 route to the Midlands and providing an alternative route to the M4 between Newport and Swansea.
A465 Heads of the Valleys Section 2
Costain on behalf of The Welsh Government
Gilwern to Brynmawr, South Wales
- National Green Apple Award for Wales
- Gold Award for Environmental Best Practice at the International Green World Environment Awards (2018)
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Environmental coordination: design, heritage, landscape, ecology, site surveys
- Air quality
- Public and key stakeholder consultation
- Monitoring and licencing species management
- Town Planning
- Expert witnesses for public inquiry
Section 2 is valued at £336 million and is regarded as the most environmentally challenging section due to its location in the extremely narrow and rocky Clydach Gorge with the River Clydach running alongside. The development includes the design and construction of 14 major structures, 12.5km of retaining structures and 1.2 million m³ of earthworks whilst maintaining two-way traffic flows.
The principal environmental considerations included the site’s location within the Usk Bat Sites Special Area of Conversation (SAC) and Mynydd Llangatwg SSSI, renowned for an extensive karst limestone cave system, part of which passes under the road. Cave entrances lie in close proximity to the route and Lesser Horseshoe Bats reside in the caves and other local features of the Gorge over winter.
To address these unique and sensitive environmental challenges, we delivered a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, working in close consultation with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Natural Resources Wales and Cadw (Welsh Government advisors on heritage).
We also undertook an Assessment of Implications on European Sites (AIES) as required as part of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. Leading this assessment, we reviewed the effects of the scheme, including the additional land taken, construction and operation of the dual carriageway on the qualifying features of the SAC.
In order to protect the Lesser Horseshoe Bats, the scheme incorporated provisions including:
As part of a Public Local Inquiry, we provided input and expert witnesses from five of our offices to advise on cultural heritage, air quality and climate impacts, noise, biodiversity, landscape and visual effects, land use, community and health impacts and habitats regulations.
At the Inquiry, the Inspector noted the proposals as acceptable and that there was an abundance of evidence to show that the scheme was compliant with local, regional and National Policy for Transport and the Economy. The strategies were noted as essential in order to minimise the adverse impact on the Brecon Beacons National Park that would otherwise occur.
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