Peak praise

Visitors to the VIP project impressed by standard of work in this highly sensitive area

“Fantastic and inspiring to see such care being taken over a project, right down to the small things that mean so much to local people”.  This was the verdict of Rachael Bice, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, on a visit to the Peak East VIP project in late November.

Since the Project Information Centre opened on 17 November, we’ve been busy welcoming a range of visitors to site – from the Community Liaison Group, who were the first group to use the facility, to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) manages the Wogden Foot wildlife site where much of our activity is taking place, including the construction of the new sealing end compound and a section of the diversion to the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT).

Chair of the project’s national Stakeholder Advisory Group, Chris Baines joined the visit alongside National Grid’s Project Manager, Tim Martin and Project Supervisor, Andy Neilly, to show the YWT visitors the extensive ecological work being undertaken, including:

  • the large numbers of trees that have been retained within Wogden Foot
  • the covered mounds of subsoil and topsoil which have been carefully stored and labelled so that they can be put back in exactly the same place they were taken from at the end of the project
  • the work to create the ideal habitat for the very rare willow tit to help it to thrive in the area
  • some of the ‘refugia’, or shelters, that have been created for reptiles and amphibians

It is hoped that we can work with YWT on school visits and organised YWT events on site during construction.

Rachael Bice summed up the visit, “It was heartening to hear and see about the work being done at Wogden Foot to minimise the damage to natural areas and to provide enhancements where-ever possible. The scheme focussed on reducing the landscape impact of huge powerlines, was a cause for concern to YWT during the planning process particularly because of the willow tits which live in the area, whose habitat was at risk. It was clear from our visit the contract team are doing their best to work sensitively and do what they can for wildlife while also delivering this challenging infrastructure project. The original footprint of the scheme has been reduced leaving more scrubland and trees intact, so important for the species which rely on these undervalued habitats, bats roosts have been carefully worked around, more decaying wood is being left on site for willow tits. Additionally, the water, soil and thus seed bank of the site is being incredibly carefully managed. There are good signs for this project to result in a win-win for people and wildlife.”

Chris Baines commented, “I first visited the site during construction in September and was struck by the extraordinary  lengths the team were going to, to protect the natural environment and individual habitats.  It is heartening to see this level of commitment from an enthusiastic team, clearly ready to go the extra mile.  I was so impressed that I wanted others to see this work.  I invited colleagues Adrian Olivier and David Parker, chairs of the National Trust’s Historic Environment and Natural Environment Advisory Groups respectively, to visit the site.  They were similarly impressed.”

The guests were the first to use the newly completed temporary bridge over the River Don (see photograph) which will form part of the TPT diversion and connects the north bank of the Don into Wogden Foot.

Adrian Olivier commented, “A few years ago, David and I sat down and wrote a ten point plan on how to carry out development properly in sensitive settings.  It is as though, at Dunford Bridge, you have not only read and followed our plan,   but have actually improved on it.  It’s fantastic to see major infrastructure development being implemented so sensitively.  It will show others  that it can be done.”

David Parker added “It was tremendous to see the obvious commitment of the local team to “doing the right thing” for the environment on the project, making the most of opportunities and working with the utmost care with soil handling and the conservation of natural features on-site.  Apart from the major landscape repair benefit of undergrounding the power cables, the project holds out the prospect of lasting additional environmental benefit both for nature and people, with biodiversity net gain and improved access.”

YWT’s Chief Executive, Rachael Bice (second right) and Regional Manager – South, Mike Winstanley (centre) joined Chris Baines (fourth from left) and members of the project team for a site visit in Wogden Foot.

David Parker (far left), Chair of the National Trust’s (NT) Natural Environment Advisory Group and Adrian Olivier (third from left), Chair of its Historic Environment Advisory Group joined Chris Baines third from right), National Grid project team members and other members of the National Trust’s Natural Environment Advisory Group as the first to use the new temporary bridge on the Trans Pennine Trail.