Looking after bats and barn owls, pike and polecats is all in a day’s work for the award-winning members of the Staffordshire Alliance ecology team.
The team has scooped a trio of environmental awards for their work on the Stafford Area Improvements Programme protecting and creating wildlife habitats at its Norton Bridge site.
The latest accolade is a Silver Green Apple national award for Conservation and Regeneration.
The Green Apple Award, presented at the House of Commons on Monday (Nov 16) follows the recent success the Staffordshire Alliance has enjoyed in landing a Business Award and Special Wildlife Prize at Stafford Borough Council’s Green Awards.
The £250m programme of works has already delivered line-speed improvements and the re-signalling of Stafford and is entering its final stages with the creation of a flyover junction at Norton Bridge.
Eleven bridges, six miles of new track and 1.2km of road are being built in the countryside at Norton Bridge near Stafford to remove one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast Mainline to deliver the capability to run more passenger and freight services.
The work is being carried out by the Staffordshire Alliance of Network Rail, VolkerRail, Laing O’Rourke and Atkins.
More than one million tonnes of earth has been moved at the site to create a cutting for the new line and four rivers have been diverted so the work done by the ecology team was vital.
Site ecologist Vicky Bicknell has been working on the Staffordshire Alliance programme for two-and-a-half years.
“This is a huge programme of works with a challenging timeframe so we’re delighted the hard work we’ve put in to ensure wildlife is protected at Norton Bridge has been recognised.”
Vicky and her team have worked closely with engineers to ensure wildlife, including otters, toads, great crested newts, bats, barn owls and fish, are safeguarded.
Earth bunds have been created so barn owls will not fly along the rail corridor and woodland was successfully trans-located along with seed-bearing soils.
A camera was also set up to ensure that works did not disrupt otters and fish were captured and released downstream ahead of diversions.