Midland Main Line electrification programme pioneers innovative species management
A new approach to protected species management is being tested out on the Midland Main Line electrification programme and has the potential to deliver significant efficiency and cost savings over Newtthe next eight years.

Until now, protected species mitigation licences have only been granted for discrete zones or in areas where a protected species has been recorded through survey work. If protected species are found in areas where they have not been recorded, work comes to a halt while a licence is applied for.

On 150km Midland Main Line electrification scheme, ecologists from Atkins have identified that there is a high likelihood of encountering protected species where they have not previously been recorded, resulting in delays that could cost to £10,000 to £20,000 per night.

Working with Natural England they have secured the first ever project-wide mitigation licence. This provides consent to deal with protected species as they are encountered. These first licences cover crested newts and badgers.

The great crested newt licence allows individuals to be captured along the length of the railway as they are encountered during works. The badger licence allows setts to be disturbed or closed, minimising the impact of finding these species unexpectedly during construction works.

Richard John, Network Rail environment manager, commented: “This new system has considerably sped up the process of removing and relocating protected species which are found along the route, and has allowed investment work in the railway to be carried out more quickly.”

Rare butterfly gets a new railway home
A team of volunteers from Network Rail are taking part in a scheme to create a new habitat for one of the UK’s rarest butterflies alongside the rail track near Princes Risborough.

The volunteers joined the Upper Thames Branch of wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) to create a new habitat for the Duke of Burgundy colony at a new site on land adjacent to the London to Birmingham line.

The butterfly colony – one of just three found in the county – currently sits on private land near Princes Risborough, just north of High Wycombe, but the site has recently gone up for sale. BC hopes that creating new habitat nearby will encourage the butterflies to expand their range, so whatever happens to their current site, they face a more secure future.

Upper Thames Branch chairman, Nick Bowles, said: “We are thrilled that Network Rail not only allowed us to work on this site, a former breeding ground for the butterfly, but also that so many of their staff volunteered to help. This is all part of our efforts to strengthen the Duke’s population and increase the number of colonies in Buckinghamshire.”

Go-Ahead identified as top performer for sustainability
Go-Ahead has achieved an impressive 95% score in Business in the Community’s 2016 sustainability index, making it a top performing passenger transport operator.

The company has received praise for developing a methodology calculating the financial value sustainability activities bring to the business, and for taking social and environmental issues into account in strategic decision making.

The CR Index is a benchmarking tool that helps hundreds of companies measure and manage their progress integrating responsible business practices.

Sarah Boundy, corporate communications director at Go-Ahead, said: “Our devolved management structure allows us to develop strong collaborative stakeholder partnerships with local organisations and to make a positive and more relevant contribution to the communities we serve.”