Merthyr College: Phase 1 and BREEAM

Background

BSG Ecology was commissioned to undertake an Extended Phase 1 survey of an existing College campus site in Merthyr Tydfil. The survey was required to provide supporting information for a planning application for the re-development of the site as part of the Merthyr Learning Quarter project (MLQ).

The proposals for the site involved the demolition of the existing main college building, a private domestic dwelling and other smaller buildings to allow the construction of a new college building.  The proposals also included soft and hard landscaping of the wider campus area and security, street and feature lighting.

The Ynysfach blast furnace (a Scheduled Industrial Monument) is present within the site which means that it is statutorily protected by law  under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

BSG Ecology’s Role in the Project

A preliminary site survey identified a number of ecological issues:Merthyr-College

Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica, a plant listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) was recorded as being present on the site.  A specialist contractor was appointed to ensure that this invasive species was managed during the demolition works and eventually eradicated through treatment.

Targeted surveys were undertaken for bats and reptiles after potential for these species to occur on the site was identified.

No evidence of reptiles were found. The bat surveys recorded the presence of five small common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus roosts within the old college building and a night roost of lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros was recorded in the Ynysfach furnace structure.

A BREEAM Education Report was also provided for the scheme. BSG’s advice focussed upon actions that could be taken to maximise the credits received from the ecology section of the assessment.

Outcome

The scheme was granted planning permission with several conditions relating to ecology and one condition relating to BREEAM.

The ecology conditions related to:

  • A Bat Protection and Mitigation Plan for Construction and Development which needed to be submitted to the LPA prior to works starting
  • A lighting impact assessment, to avoid impacts on bats during the construction, and operation of the building
  • Reptile, compensation and enhancement measures.

Common-pipistrelleThe BREEAM condition stated that the development should score BREEAM overall Very Good as a minimum.

BSG Ecology successfully applied for and delivered a European Protected Species Licence to mitigate for the loss of the bat roosts and subsequently supervised its implementation which included the design of a bat friendly lighting scheme for the College and installation of bat boxes to replace the lost bat roosts.

BSG also worked with the scheme’s lighting engineers to design a sensitive lighting scheme that avoided impacts upon light sensitive lesser horseshoe bats.  We also devised and implemented a number of biodiversity enhancements (under planning conditions) within the site.  These included the design of reptile hibernacula and planting lists designed to maximise the biodiversity gain.

As a result of our guidance, the BREEAM ecology section scored very highly, contributing to an overall evaluation of Excellent.

Merthyr College: Phase 1 and BREEAM – Project Profile

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