Powys schools

Demolition and replacement of five primary school buildings and landscaping with sports/play areas and biodiversity features. RPS was the sole ecologist undertaking Preliminary Ecological Appraisals to provide a detailed breakdown of ecological resources at each of the five sites. Protected species surveys were carried out for roosting bats (building emergence and tree climbing), great crested newts (environmental DNA surveys), and dormouse in a hedgerow to be translocated.

Key details

Project name
Powys schools

Client
Willmott Dixon

Location
Various, Powys and Herefordshire

Services provided

  • Ecology
    • Ecological and protected species survey
    • Planning support
    • Mitigation design and implementation
    • NRW EPS licensing (bats)
    • Planning condition discharge

Challenge

The project required a flexible and innovative approach to meet the biodiversity requirements for legislation and planning policy, while ensuring the school grounds were fit for purpose. The demolition and replacement work had to fit around school term times and education funding rounds to ensure no interruption to the children’s education.

The landscape design had to not only provide play areas but also biodiversity gain for planning, as well as maximised biodiversity value for BREEAM assessment. Bat roosts in two school buildings and a hedgerow connected to a dormouse habitat at one site presented potential cost and timing obstacles. In another school, the presence of great crested newts had the potential to cause unacceptable delays. 

Powys Schools - project image (1).png

Solution

We worked closely with the client to anticipate potential ecological constraints and provide solutions to avoid. We designed and oversaw implementation of all ecological mitigation and advised on landscape and lighting design.

Works potentially affecting GCN and dormouse were addressed with non-licensed method statements. With appropriate work timing and the use of other reasonable avoidance measures, the cost and delay of EPS licensing was avoided. The on-site hedgerow with dormouse potential was translocated under the supervision of a dormouse licence holder following thorough checks to confirm no dormice nests were present. Translocation rather than replanting meant there was no temporary habitat loss. Two NRW mitigation licences wer obtained for the loss of pipistrelle roosts in buildings, with no impact on works timing. 

RPS designed and oversaw implementation of all ecological mitigation, as well as advising on maximising BREEAM ecology credits and discharging ecology related planning conditions, specifically: biodiversity enhancement strategies, landscape and ecology management plans, and a method statement to avoid impacts on the River Wye SSSI and SAC. 

Project statistics

5
Ecological appraisals
1
Biosecurity risk assessments
5
BREEAM ecology assessment
2
Sites requiring biodiversity enhancement strategies
5
Bat emergence surveys
4
Great Crested Newt eDNA surveys

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