BSG Ecology worked with the Tawnywood project team to identify and deliver a biodiversity solution in relation to a large-scale land reclamation project at their Hartington site, Derbyshire. Reaching a solution was complex due to the range of ecological interests affected, including a diverse botanical community and invertebrate assemblage. Biodiversity mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures were therefore delivered across a suite of sites owned by Tawnywood.
The project was Highly Commended in the Best Biodiversity Enhancement category at the Brownfield Awards 2020.
In 2017 Tawnywood Ltd obtained planning consent to reclaim and restore a former industrial plant, foundry and deep mine tip at Hartington Reclamation Site, Derbyshire, ahead of redevelopment. The site was allocated for commercial development in the Local Plan, and the consent was subject to a Section 106 agreement requiring preparation and implementation of a complex series of ecological mitigation and management plans.
Baseline survey work identified a number of important ecological features across parts of the site that would be impacted by the works. These included:
- Species-rich neutral grasslands
- Open-mosaic habitat on previously developed land
- A diverse invertebrate assemblage including dingy skipper butterfly (a species of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England) and a number of nationally rare and scarce species.
As the restoration plan involved the extraction and recovery of minerals from the site ahead of reclamation, and the site would then be subject to development, it was clear that an off-site biodiversity solution was needed.
Detailed pre-application consultation was undertaken with Natural England, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derbyshire County Council to identify and address their concerns with regard to biodiversity. This identified the need for compensatory habitat creation. Newly-created habitats had to provide varied structure and suitable microhabitats to maximise their value to invertebrates, and to support bird’s-foot trefoil, the larval food plant of the dingy skipper in order to be effective.
The solution involved the identification of three nearby biodiversity enhancement sites under the client’s land ownership, all within 1.2km of the site and available immediately. The strategy involved.
- The incorporation of substantial mitigation into the restoration of the development site, including the creation of areas of species-rich habitat grassland, open mosaic habitat, river corridor enhancements and woodland planting.
- Translocation of grasslands and open mosaic habitat to one of the offset sites, along with the materials on which they had become established, providing the opportunity for recreation of these botanically rich and important habitats.
- The translocation of wet grassland, establishment of new areas of species rich grassland (through seeding) and hedgerow, and the complementary management of existing grassland at a second site.
- The design and delivery of a habitat management plan at a third site, Breck Farm Water Meadows Local Wildlife Site, which included the creation of a large wetland area aimed at providing complementary habitat for invertebrates and wading birds; and enhancement of a large tract of land to recreate wildflower grassland habitat and diversify the (at the time) uniform structure of scrub habitat to benefit invertebrates and reptiles.
A key element of the project design was that no new materials were required: all suitable substrates from the main site were re-used at the biodiversity enhancement sites. These materials were also used as the primary source of seed bank material for vegetation establishment. This reduced the costs of removing waste materials, and avoided the need to obtain any new substrates.
Long term management plans are in place with regard to all elements of habitat creation and enhancement. Monitoring to date has demonstrated: a plant species diversity that meets the criteria for a Local Wildlife Site has developed on the first biodiversity enhancement site after only one year; suitable habitat for dingy skipper (with an abundance of bird’s-foot trefoil) has developed at two of the biodiversity enhancement sites; and seasonally inundated grassland and wetland habitat has been successfully re-created at a third.
Local communities are being kept informed of the works via the Hartington Liaison Group, which provides a forum for discussion between the project team, their contractors, and other groups including Parish Councils, local individuals, Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council.
Our client Roger Caisley commented on the award nomination “We are delighted to be shortlisted. Everyone has worked really hard to bring this brownfield site back into action and to safeguard the biodiversity interests. We are enjoying seeing the new habitats establish on the receptor Sites.”