Significant planting and landscaping enhancements have now started on the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade, a Network Rail project that will see new railway infrastructure and track built to enable faster and more reliable passenger journeys between Manchester and Sheffield.
The VolkerRailStory Joint Venture, contracted to deliver the upgrade project, has begun hedgerow and tree planting at Sickleholme Golf Course in Bamford, close to where a 1km railway loop will be constructed to allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains along the line.
This planting work marks the start of the project’s ambitious net gain biodiversity landscaping plan, which will enhance the natural environment and leave habitats in a measurably better state than before the scheme started.
VolkerRailStory, alongside environmental consultant, Ecus, are planting 172 standard trees, 18,000 whips, 410 metres of hedges of native species and 9,240m2 of species rich grassland at the golf course.
The landscaping initiative at Sickleholme Golf Course, together with wider grassland, tree and hedgerow planting close to and along the new railway loop, make up a biodiversity net gain target of over 20%, set by the project at Bamford.
Pete Broomhead, Environmental & Consents Lead from VolkerRailStory, said: “With much of the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade taking place within the Peak District National Park, it’s particularly important that we strive to leave a positive legacy in the local community and environment.
“The tree planting and biodiversity enhancements form part of numerous ecology and landscape management plans that the project has agreed with Sheffield City Council and the Peak District National Park Authority, so that we ensure that the project’s impact on local habitats and wildlife is kept to a minimum, and that we enhance and improve the natural environment that we’re working in.”
As part of the work being undertaken at Dore & Totley; to install a second railway line, a new platform and accessible footbridge at the station, VolkerRailStory are working towards 12% biodiversity net gain, through planting in Poynton Woods and Dore Triangle.
Faye Durkin, Head of Ecology at Ecus, said: “This has been a really exciting opportunity for our landscape architects, ecologists and habitat creation teams to work closely together to design and now create a large scale project. Our client has gone above and beyond the typically required 10% gain and we’re working with them to leave a positive legacy for biodiversity.”
Other environmental initiatives committed to by the Joint Venture include using 100% green energy to power the project’s main site compounds at Bamford and Dore & Totley to significantly reduce the project’s direct carbon emissions. Targets have also been set to use 100% responsibly sourced materials such as timber, concrete and aggregate, and to divert 97.5% of non-hazardous site waste from landfill.
VolkerRailStory have signed up to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, further strengthening a commitment to minimising the project’s impact on and enhancing the natural environment.