BSG Ecology was invited to become part of the consultant team designing and promoting Ashton Park as a major urban extension to the south west of Bristol. The site is 4km2 and the proposal includes provision for 9,500 new dwellings as well as schools, commercial and retail space and associated physical and community infrastructure. The infrastructure will include a link between the A370 and A38, a new rapid transit route to link into the city centre and an Energy from Waste facility which will provide heat and power to all of the development area. An outline planning application for the scheme was submitted in summer 2009.
Design and Consultation
BSG Ecology was an integral part of the design team working closely with the landscape architects, planning consultants, urban designers and master planners to develop the form and function of the green infrastructure which is a key feature of the masterplan framework. Our input and advice was based on extensive field and desk study, as well as intensive consultation with a wide range of ecological stakeholders.
Key ecological considerations that have influenced design of the green infrastructure in the masterplan include continued use of the landscape by lesser horseshoe bats and the protection of wildlife sites, including internationally important sites.
It was vital to identify and maintain the key flight paths used by lesser horseshoe bats as they move between their roosts and important foraging areas. This required intensive survey involving the capture of bats at their roost and radio-tracking across the surrounding landscape. The potential effects of lighting and severance by roads were necessarily considered in the early stages of master planning to guide design and provide confidence that the green infrastructure will be effective in maintaining use by bats. The resulting master plan therefore incorporates the key flight paths for bats and provides opportunities for wide, dark corridors and safe road crossing points to ensure that bats will continue to use the flight paths through the new urban development.
Protecting designated sites
Indirect impacts of the proposed urban extension on internationally designated sites were given detailed consideration. In particular the effects of atmospheric emissions from the Energy from Waste Plant were considered in a Habitats Regulations Assessment. Direct impacts on non-statutory designated sites have been avoided by modifying the boundaries of the built environment and incorporating the sites into the green infrastructure network.
BSG Ecology’s role in the project
James Gillespie led our contribution to the overall project. Our experience and expertise in designing, creating and then managing habitats and our knowledge of the ecological requirements of the key species has been vital to achieving workable and effective design solutions. In addition the experience of colleagues in other BSG Ecology offices contributed to the Habitats Regulations Assessment and determination of the potential impacts of atmospheric pollution arising from the Energy from Waste facility.