Prior to construction being undertaken on the East Anglia ONE cable route, an Environmental Impact Assessment and a number of surveys were undertaken to observe species and habitats susceptible to disturbance during construction (including, but not limited to, Great Crested Newts, badgers, water voles, otters, reptiles and birds).
We observed different habitats for set time periods, particularly during key breeding times, using expert advice to establish species-specific management plans, detailed guidance and procedures to protect them.
We have relocated species where necessary, providing alternative habitats and ceased work when advised. Badgers are extremely active in Suffolk with numerous badger setts (active and occasional use) within 40-50 metres of the cable route. We have protected them, creating new setts where necessary, carefully relocating them and checking the setts regularly for activity.
To protect great crested newts, we avoided habitats such as ponds and created hibernation shelters using branches sourced locally. The project team also engaged with a local rescue centres for reptiles, hedgehogs and other fauna in case temporary accommodation was needed while work was being carried out.
Surveys are undertaken throughout the work to monitor wildlife and the environment, reporting wildlife statistics back to Natural England and the local authorities.
Vegetation Management Plans have also been put in place prior to any work commencing. This led to Horizontal Directional Drilling being used in specific areas such as Millers Wood to avoid disturbing protected species, like the Early Purple Orchid.
Topsoil is stored along the route in bunds, as agreed in the Cable Landscape Management Plan. The bunds are kept below two metres to avoid compacting the soil and affecting structure. They are also planted with seeds to stop erosion, minimise weeds and retain the nutrients.
Where construction is complete, land reinstatement has begun, with superior vegetation and grassland being used to enhance the landscape.
As part of the mitigation plan, for every tree removed during construction we will plant two new ones. This, combined with the visual screening plan at the substation, which will see us plant 30,000 trees, will result in a total of approximately 31,000 trees being planted. The screening will be monitored for five years along the cable route and 10 years at the onshore substation to ensure the screening plan is achieved.
To ensure we have the best independent advice and guidance during the construction of East Anglia ONE, we have an Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW), who is contracted from ecology and environmental management company, Bowland Ecology.
The ECoW’s role is to ensure ecological and environmental impacts are avoided or mitigated. They are often out on foot monitoring habitats with specially trained ornithologists and ecologists giving advice and taking steps to protect ecology. They work with the construction team to minimise the project’s ecological impact through measures such as visual and acoustic barriers, species-specific plans, the relocation of fauna to designated habitats, or stopping of work for set periods of time.
The ECoW records everything on site, writing daily observations and reporting wildlife data to Natural England and the local authorities. We are committed to minimising and mitigating the impact of our construction work and having an independent ECoW on site with the project team, working to protect wildlife and habitats, ensures this is managed in accordance with requirements.