As part of our regulatory and policy commitments we appraise every capital project to determine whether it may impact upon any feature of ecological or archaeological interest.
Each project is assessed using our geographical information system which contains data on designated sites, habitats and species. We also work with ecological data centres and specialist wildlife groups to gain further understanding of species distribution throughout the region. This allows us to make informed judgements on the scope of further surveys. By carrying out survey work not only do we meet our legislative duties, but also contributes to the ecological knowledge of the region, by feeding back our survey results to special interest groups. The screening process is also utilised to identify the opportunities that such capital projects may create in terms of wildlife gain.
Screening of schemes such as the construction of a new sewage treatment works at Horden identified the necessary relocation and subsequent management of an area of Magnesian Limestone Grassland. The de-commissioning of a sewage treatment works at Witton-le-Wear provided the opportunity to create a large reedbed in its place.
Environmental screening update
Our Conservation Team screened 650 projects in 2016 which worked out at around 54 projects per month. New development water main connections formed the bulk of the requests, but we also screened a large number of projects from our asset delivery team.
One of our larger sewer schemes at Castle Eden required a significant amount of survey work and co-ordination to provide assurances to Natural England that we would be able to minimise our impact on the dene, which has several environmental designations including national and international protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve and Special Area of Conservation.
When projects are identified as having environmental interest we work with local ecological consultancies in addition to using our in-house ecological expertise to minimise our impact on the natural environment.