Westnewton Bridge carries the B6351 road over the College Burn near Kirktnewton. In the winter of 2012 the bridge suffered structural damage due to heavy floods. Immediate action was taken by Northumberland County Council (NCC) under emergency powers, comprising of remedial works to the bridge’s structure and channel realignment channelling the main flow of the river under the bridge’s central arch.
Following the completion of the emergency works NCC recognised the need to undertake long term measures, improving flood defences to protect the bridge from future floods. VBA, a joint venture of VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins, worked on behalf of NCC to carry out the delivery of the complex flood defence works. These included:
- Bridge scour protection,
- Channel management,
- Flood bank re-instatement;
Based on the award winning relationship established with VBA, and an excellent track with NCC, EcoNorth was appointed as the Project Ecologist and Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW), following a tendering process.
Westnewton Bridge sits within the heavily protected area known as The College Burn which forms part of the River Tweed Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Tweed Catchment Rivers – England: Till Catchment Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As the Ecolgists for the project it was our responsibility to ensure that neither species protected within the site nor the river habitat were negatively affected during or after the works.
Prior to design or construction works, baseline surveys were undertaken to describe the habitats present, its use by protected species, and designated site interest features. Results from which were used to inform a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) Compliance Assessment. Such assessments required ‘proof’ of no adverse effects on designated site (HRA Report) or Waterbody (WFD Report). By implementing appropriate mitigation our consultants were able to ensure that the scheme would not pollute the river system during construction, form a barrier to fish, and that the design would not prevent natural processes which support the qualifying species of the SAC.
At the construction phase our Environmental Clerk of Works (ECoW) worked closely with other contractors providing guidance and advice, whilst monitoring condition to ensure compliance with species specific Method Statements. Produced by our Principal Ecologist, these were required due to the very sensitive nature of the wildlife and habitats that the project was takeing place within. To ensure work did not pollute the river, water quality was continually monitored and when necessary the river was temporarily rerouted so works could be carried in the dry.
In addition to the designated feature from the SSSI and SAC (Atlantic salmon, lamprey species, otter, sea trout, and breeding birds), a number of other protected species were found on the site including slow worms and adders which certainly kept the EcoNorth team and contractors on their toes!
EcoNorth believes that in addition to achieving relevant legal compliance construction projects provide a genuine opportunity to benefit wildlife. To this end, and with the full support of NCC and VBA, habitat enhancement measures, such as installation of bird boxes and an artificial otter holt, were installed to create additional wildlife opportunities. EcoNorth was able to deliver the enhancement measures through our land management service.
The construction phase was completed October 2016. However ecology survey has continued given the requirement for post-construction monitoring as identified by the Environmental Assessment. The EcoNorth team were delighted to continue working in such a beautiful and wildlife rich area and we survey the site twice a year to monitor use of and suitability of the watercourse for qualifying features of the designated sites.
EcoNorth worked closely with both the clients stakeholders and statutory agencies at all stages of this project to ensure that an excellent working relationship and smooth delivery of a project in a highly sensitive location We also provided bespoke training to all site personnel regarding the ecological, features, relevant protection, project delivery risks and safe working methods to minimise these.
Despite, seasonality of species breeding, spawning, hibernating or migrating placing significant restrictions on timings for a range of operations, our Suitable Qualified Ecologists (SQE) were able to advise the project managers so works could still be completed on schedule.
EcoNorth has worked with VBA in many other projects including the award-winning Crag End project. They continually chose to work with EcoNorth as they recognise the help we provide in overcoming ecological hurdles.
|Project Start & End Date||2013 – ongoing|
|Client||Northumberland County Council|
|Location||Kirknewton, Wooler, Northumberland|