The £1.4 billion Great Western Electrification programme funded by the Department for Transport will enable a new fleet of electric trains to operate on an electrified network from 2017. The new trains will be more efficient, quieter and will have increased passenger capacity compared to the existing diesel trains.
Schofield Lothian were appointed by Network Rail in May 2012 to review the Environmental Statements (ES) for the Great Western Electrification (GWE) Programme works between Maidenhead, Bristol and Cardiff.
The 270 mile scheme involves the clearance of 6.6m of vegetation either side of the outer running rail, installation of overhead line equipment and over 130 structure interventions (a significant number of which are listed) to allow gauge clearance. In addition, 32 electrical distribution sites will be constructed to enable power to be transferred across the network.
The Scheme will involve the delivery of works through designated sites including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and the Bath World Heritage site. There are protected species along the length of the route including bats, Great Crested newts, Hazel dormice, otters, water voles, badgers, crayfish, Barn Owls and rare plants.
The Schofield Lothian team were recruited as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Consents and Environmental Management Specialists on behalf of Network Rail (NR) to ensure the ES complied with legislative and consenting requirements. The team were seconded into the Network Rail programme team to manage the ES production being undertaken by external sub-consultants. The scheme is being delivered by Network Rail, using its Permitted Development Rights under the powers of Schedule 2, Part 11 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.
Schofield Lothian provided a skilled team of Consultants with technical expertise on: Consents and Environment Team management, Environmental Impact Assessment delivery, Environment management, Ecology management, Contaminated Land management, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement management, Planning guidance, Archaeology and historic environment management, Highways and Utility consent management and Noise and vibration management.
Schofield Lothian ensured that the GWE Environmental Impact Assessment was delivered on time and budget and has been responsible for the following:
- Review of ES’s to ensure the documents complied with legislative and consenting requirements
- Management of the consultation process for these documents. By using the feedback from the scoping report consultation exercise to inform the ES reports, Schofield Lothian have secured good relationships with key stakeholders.
- Delivery of ecology surveys including Phase 1 Habitat surveys, Phase 2 species specific surveys. Schofield Lothian has provided timely insight on the environmental constraints for the GWE route to inform the programme of works.
- Provision of environmental GIS data and coordination of GIS model for GWE programme. Schofield Lothian has led the development of the model to enable the project delivery team to be able to access all the environmental constraint information in one tool. This has significantly helped the design process for GWE works.
- The team undertook a screening exercise for a number of additional works including vegetation clearance and advance structures.
- Schofield Lothian created the template for the ES format and methodology in order to meet industry best practice (including IEMA guidance) as well as legislative requirements.
- During the review process SL identified that additional environmental investigations and assessments were required prior to submission of the ES documents to the local authorities and other stakeholders in England and Wales.
- Stakeholder management including relationships with local authorities, and statutory consultees including English Heritage, Environment Agency, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales
- Mitigation measures were identified by SL including methods for protected species and protected sites, groundwater, surface water, contaminated land, waste materials, noise, vibration, air pollution and dust during design and construction.
- SL have undertaken protected species monitoring, and have provided technical advice on groundwater, surface water, contaminated land, waste materials, noise, vibration , air pollution and dust monitoring.
Value added initiatives
Schofield Lothian managed the delivery of the ES’s as a series of structured reports by Local Authority area. This structure avoided the need to provide a large ES covering the whole Scheme to each of the 16 Local Authorities that the scheme passes through.
Our Director of Consents & Environment (acting as NR’s Head of C&E on the GWE programme) advised the sub-consultants producing the Volume 3 ES Figure documents to include maps showing the extent of vegetation clearance across the route. The NR Communications Team (a second Schofield Lothian team working on GWE programme) have been able to refer to these drawings during public consultation exercises and in their responses to line side neighbour concerns.
The Schofield Lothian team have liaised with Natural England to negotiate generic protected species licenses to apply across the whole route, which is unprecedented for a project of this size and duration. This has reduced the total number of protected species licences which will be required across the programme of works during the delivery phase.
Environmental GIS data was incorporated into a NR GIS model to inform the design and construction stages. This has aided environmental data dissemination across the Project teams, preventing programme delays associated with environmental constraints.
Schofield are leading the design of a new Network Rail grate for tunnel vent shafts which will protect the trains and tunnel infrastructure whilst allowing bats to fly through in a Special Area of Conservation.
Schofield are leading the development of a pioneering bat survey programme and mitigation for Box Tunnel Special Area of Conservation to enable GWE works to be delivered according to programme.
The project was based initially at Paddington Station in London until March 2013 when the Project Team moved to Swindon. The Schofield Lothian team offered flexibility in their ability to move with the Project Team from London to Swindon during the contract delivery.
The Schofield Lothian ES contract started in May 2012 and was completed in May 2013. The contract has been extended to date to include the delivery of the consents, environmental management and communications for the wider Great Western Route Modernisation programme.
The team of Consultants included: Director, Senior Consultants (EIA Specialists), Environment Managers, Ecologist, Town Planning Specialist and a Contaminated Land team.
For more information please contact Mike Upton, firstname.lastname@example.org