The A465 Trunk Road was identified as a major strategic route for east-west traffic through Wales within the Transport Framework for Wales (2001) and Trunk Road Forward Programme (2002). The project was a 6km long on-line highway improvement of Section 1 of the A465 Heads of the Valleys road in South Wales, within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
A variety of protected species were recorded within the scheme including Water Voles, Badgers and Great Crested Newt (GCN) all of which have their own mitigation requirements. It affects two Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the European Union Natura 2000 programme. One is the Usk Bat Sites SAC which contains 5% of the Lesser Horseshoe Bat population of the UK.
The environmental considerations of the project underpinned the design and construction of each aspect of the scheme from the consideration of various routes to alternative methods of construction for individual structures.
A key feature was the development and implementation of the bat management plan which includes both a programme of monitoring works and the provision of compensation measures, resulting in the need for Appropriate Assessment and Ministerial approval under the Habitats Regulations through the implementation of an Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI). The monitoring plan allowed the construction of a road central to the regeneration of the South Wales coalfield. The extent of the surveys and their analysis provided CCW with the surety that the SAC is not compromised.
It shows how the Assembly Government’s responsibilities to the environment are addressed, reflects the value of the natural resource and how environmental concerns can influence project implementation.
The scheme is an exemplar of how a landscape architect can influence the design and development of environmental mitigation measures on a sensitive site with the highest level of environmental constraints. It also illustrates how focused team working can deliver a major infrastructure project within a very restrictive legal framework established by the IROPI.
|Location||Heads of the Valleys, South Wales|
|Lead landscape architect||TACP|
|Awards||The bat mitigation plan received a Landscape Institute Award in the category of Landscape Sciences in 2009 (Commended) and a Green Apple Award (Gold) 2009.|