Due to the scale and potential impact of the pipeline through both districts, North Somerset and Sedgemoor Councils required planning permission with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be undertaken.
The EIA surveys undertaken in 2016 found 25 protected areas, five priority/BAP habitats, 170 hedges, 400 standard trees (some TPO protected), 18 ponds with great crested newts, 17 badger’s setts within 30m, three bat roosts, one barn owl roost, one kingfisher population, 24 locations of dormice, 400 bee orchids, small population of cave spiders, a small population of reptiles and 10 invasive species.
With this scheme, there was a shared goal by client, contractor and local stakeholders (district councils, local conservation groups) to leave a lasting legacy by providing funding and staff time that was outside contract requirements.
Local wildlife and habitats were protected as much as possible within the design and environmental management plan. It was our goal to achieve a biodiversity net gain.
Working with the local community was important for this project, so Kier gave Churchill Academy School and Bridgwater College materials to make barn/tawny/little owl and kestrel boxes for every km of the pipeline (approximately 40 boxes). The boxes were installed by Kier’s environmental team and the Hawk and Owl Trust in spring 2018, across land that spanned 24 landowners.
Members of the Kier team and volunteers monitor the boxes to gather important data and inform habitat management but also to uphold good client/community relations.
In addition, 'Spawn to be Wild' is a project developed by Avon Wildlife Trust and Bristol Water to inspire young people to care for the natural environment. Through this project pupils learnt about freshwater ecology and how they can ensure the sustainability of a healthy environment specifically in relation to the endangered European eel. The project provided five schools along the SSSM route to care for a tank of elvers (juvenile eels), learning about their ecology and eventually releasing them into the wild. This will improve the chances of young eels making it to adult stage and increasing the breeding population.
Kier and Bristol Water worked with Bristol City Council to go above and beyond our compulsory replanting plan and plant a small woodland, connecting two fragmented woodlands, adjacent to the pipeline. Children from ten inner city schools came to site and planted approximately 1060 trees whilst being taught about nature. The aim of this project was to both increase the habitat quality for the local dormouse population and allow children deprived of nature interaction to learn and enjoy a greener environment.
The efforts made to improve the environment after SSSM is completed will have a long-lasting effect on the wildlife within the local landscape, leaving an enhanced habitat for species such as dormice, bats, great crested newts, bee orchids and owls.
At a local scale, the citizen owl box scheme has seen owl activity in at least 20% of the boxes installed and this is predicted to increase the longer the boxes are a part of the natural environment
The project was delivered ahead of schedule and is now fully functioning as part of the Bristol Water network. The project has gone onto win multiple awards including The Green Apple Award (2018), The CIRIA BIG Challenge, runner up (2018), CIEEM award, runner up (2019) and winner within the Water Industry Awards (2018).
" The work undertaken so far has shown that without the support and creativity of Kier’s Environment team, these projects could not have been delivered alongside the day job of surveying, monitoring and managing the mitigation and the immediate environmental impacts of construction of the pipeline…A big thank you from Bristol Water to the Kier Environment Team - working together on this project has enabled us to construct the foundations for a positive environmental legacy along the route of the SSSM. "Environmental Manager Bristol Water (2018)
Kier was employed to carry out in-river works to restore the natural channel over a 75m stretch of the River Camel. This included removal of an old weir and artificial bank reinforcement which are an impediment to the natural function of the river and introduction of large woody debris into the channel to modify flows and create habitat opportunity.
Christ the Word is a much-needed through school for pupils from 3-16-years-old and we were appointed to deliver the new BREEAM Excellent project, as well as demolish the existing schools, all whilst working in a live environment.
The Southern Strategic Support Main (SSSM) is a new 31km water pipeline and has been created to help improve the water supply to 280,000 houses and support the growing local population. The pipeline passes through open countryside, towns and villages providing the opportunity for both biodiversity enhancement and community engagement.