Ecological Advice to Oxford City Council

Background

BSG Ecology has provided ecological advice and services to Oxford City Council (OCC) on a range of projects. In our work with OCC we have scoped and undertaken surveys to identify ecological constraints and confirm any mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures required to ensure compliance with relevant planning policy and legislation. Three examples of our involvement with OCC are described below.

Land at Barton

BSG Ecology was contracted by OCC to determine ecological constraints and opportunities associated with development of a 33 hectare site to the west of Barton, Oxfordshire.

The site had been identified by OCC as having the potential to meet long term development needs.  BSG supported OCC over a period of five years, undertaking and refreshing baseline survey in accordance with industry guidelines.  This allowed potential future developers to understand the ecological issues associated with the site, and the extent to which these were likely to influence and/or constrain development.

Detailed technical ecological survey work was undertaken by BSG Ecology on behalf of OCC including bird, bat activity and emergence and invertebrate work, and method statements were prepared to inform building demolition.

Following the handover of the site to a development consortium, BSG Ecology was retained through WSP UK Ltd to complete specialist surveys including badger bait marking, further bat survey and phase 2 botanical surveys and to provide technical input to a strategy for the enhancement of grassland to compensate for the loss of grassland habitat within the development.

Roger Dudman Way Footbridge

OCC’s Building and Construction Team planned to install a new footbridge spanning the Fiddler’s Island Stream near the city centre. This bridge was constructed to allow pedestrian access from Roger Dudman Way (an access road to the rear of Oxford Rail Station) to the east, over to the River Thames towpath (Thames Path) to the west. BSG Ecology was asked by OCC to provide advice with regard to possible ecological constraints associated with these proposed works.

The Environment Agency (EA) granted consent for the works subject to a number of conditions. One of these conditions identified that water vole and bat surveys should be carried out in advance of the works. The EA also requested that OCC produce an appropriate working method statement for the works, to be submitted to and approved by the EA prior to works commencing. The method statement was to be informed by the results of surveys for water vole and bats.

Further survey was subsequently undertaken by a BSG Ecologist to determine the presence/likely absence of these species. No signs of water voles were identified within the survey area and the two trees required for removal to enable the bridge works were identified as having negligible potential to support roosting bats.  The requirements of the planning condition were satisfied and this enabled OCC to confidently proceed with the footbridge construction.

Blackbird Leys Stream

OCC’s Building and Construction Team planned to undertake de-silting works on two sections of the Blackbird Leys stream: one within Blackbird Leys Park (a 200m section); and another within Spindleberry Nature Park (a 170m section). OCC approached BSG Ecology for advice relating to possible ecological constraints associated with these works.

A walkover survey was completed by an experienced river habitat surveyor from BSG Ecology alongside an OCC representative. This found neither section of the stream to be of significant ecological value and no evidence of protected species or species of conservation importance was identified. BSG Ecology provided OCC with advice on retention of bankside trees and shrubs to maintain biodiversity value, and timings of any necessary vegetation clearance outside of the bird nesting period.

Ecological Advice to Oxford City Council – Project Profile

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