Project Description

Overhead Line Network | North Shropshire

This £18 million Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project for SP Energy Networks comprises a new 21km overhead electricity line intended to reinforce the electricity network in North Shropshire. Working with a project team responsible for the Development Consent Order submission to the Planning Inspectorate, Avian Ecology undertook a suite of habitat and species surveys along the proposed route corridor to inform the detailed design. These comprised large-scale surveys across extensive farmland, wetlands, rivers and wood, all of which were required to inform the ecological impact assessment and Ecology Chapter of the Environmental Statement. Avian Ecology advised on the likely impacts and designed a mitigation strategy before preparing the Ecology Section of the Environmental Statement (ES) submission. The assessment process adopted the ‘mitigation hierarchy’ approach, requiring detailed consultations with landowners and nature conservation organisations, and the development of an ecological enhancement strategy in partnership with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. As the route was located just a few kilometres from the internationally important Midlands Meres and Mosses Ramsar site, Avian Ecology also undertook a screening assessment to enable compliance with the Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, ensuring that the approach reflected recent European case law changes which could have created substantial problems for the project if not anticipated and carefully addressed. Avian Ecology subsequently provided robust Habitats Regulations documentation which satisfied a rigorous legal review prior to submission and ensured a fully compliant and legally sound application to be submitted to PINS. The Avian Ecology team remains vigilant to changes in case law, guidance, policy and legislation which may be relevant to the planning process and to client projects. It is inevitable that such changes will occur and sometimes these can have substantial implications for developers, either positive or negative. With this approach our clients can be confident that they are benefitting from the most current and emerging advice, tailored to their specific projects.
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