Network Rail has said it has transformed a temporary work compound into an area that will protect wildlife in Finedon, Northamptonshire.
The land is situated just off of Finedon Station Road and was previously used as a site compound for engineers whilst they undertook the essential electrification as part of the huge Midland Main Line upgrade project which finished in April 2021.
Network Rail and Amey worked together to evolve the first specific habitat, which is part of an ingenious project which will manage protected species, keeping the wildlife safe for years to come.
Approximately 40,000 tonnes of material were removed from the site before the team could begin the landscaping required to create the nature reserve. The material which was removed is now being utilised by local businesses and also as part of another work site, which means that nothing has gone to landfill.
The nature reserve will feature ponds, which will give the correct habitat for great crested newts. The habitat will also include grassland, wetland areas and also open woodland, which will draw birds, butterflies and bees.
The multifaceted project has been very carefully planned by Network Rail, on one hand, to provide faster and more reliable train services for passengers and on the other to increase biodiversity and also to lessen the impact of the huge project on wildlife.
Freshwater Habitats Trust designed the site and are specialists in amphibian habitat creation with an extreme focus on Great Crested Newts.
Network Rail will oversee the ongoing management of the reserve. The site will not open to the general public, which will help protect both animals and vegetation.
Tara Scott, Route Infrastructure Engineer for Network Rail, said: “As we carry out vital work to improve the railway, we are continuing to look for innovative ways to boost biodiversity. We were committed to turn this land in Finedon into an area for wildlife once we’d finished using it – and it’s great to see progress on our first new habitat.
“We also want to thank residents who live near the Finedon Station Road site for their patience whilst the essential railway upgrades took place. Now the work compound has gone, the new site will attract wildlife to the area.”
Michael Whitehead, Principal Environmentalist, Amey Consulting, said: “We have applied our environmental consulting expertise to create diverse ecological habitat, in support of Network Rail’s journey to Biodiversity Net Gain. This project presents a strong example of sustainable thinking, with clear benefits to the local environment and neighbouring communities, as well as carbon reduction in the planned planting of trees and reuse of all clean engineering fill materials from the site.”
Cllr Harriet Pentland, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for Climate and Green Environment, said: “Protecting our green environment is a key priority for the council and we are committed to working with partners to ensure that this happens in the area.
“We are delighted to see this former compound site transformed into a pocket of wilderness which is ideal for supporting an abundance of wildlife. Not only is this important for nature but it also helps to enrich our lives too.
“The project has also diverted materials from going to landfill by cleverly re-using them – an innovative way of reducing our environmental impact.”
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