By far the issues raised with us most frequently from the consultation were regarding the restoration of the land and connectivity between Fineshade Wood and Collyweston Great Wood. Augean has listened to these concerns, undertaken further surveys and monitoring to understand the issues and has significantly altered the proposed phasing and timing of the working areas, in particular how and when areas can be brought forward for restoration and create connectivity between habitats. These include:
- At the beginning of the development, a new, species-rich hedgerow will be planted along the northwest side of the northern field in the proposed western extension. The existing hedge, which is gappy, but has much dead wood, will be left in place, making the new hedge denser and thus more attractive to nesting birds, and providing connecting habitat for dormice. The current poor hedgerow along the northern boundary of the proposed western extension will be improved by gapping up with a range of local species. These hedgerow improvements will provide larval food plants and strengthen connectivity for a range of invertebrates and mammals, including dormice. Blackthorn planting is proposed in particular to enhance the habitat at locations where a local colony of Black Hairstreak butterflies have been identified. The enhanced hedges will also improve the existing commuting corridor for bats between the two woodlands.
- Also, at the initial stages of development a 20-metre wide corridor crossing the northern field will be created bordered by double hedgerows connecting The Assarts in Fineshade Wood to Collyweston Great Wood, near to the north west corner of the existing ENRMF site. An underground culvert currently runs through this area which will be developed as an open watercourse with small ponds after the land to the north has been restored.
- The phasing of the proposed western extension area has been altered so that the northernmost cell (Phase 12) can be worked, filled, capped and restored in around 5 to 7 years from the start of cell excavation work. This will bring forward at an early stage further connectivity between the two areas of woodland.
Please click on the plans below to enlarge.
- A minimum 10-metre stand-off of existing agricultural land will be retained undisturbed on the boundary with Collyweston Great Wood and the proposed western extension area. This will perform a number of ecological functions during the works such as providing foraging and resting areas for reptile and amphibian populations, maintaining existing connection of Great Crested Newt habitat between existing breeding ponds and hibernation sites and maintaining existing connectivity for badgers and important invertebrate populations from the adjacent ancient woodland.
- A 10-metre stand-off of existing agricultural land will similarly be retained undisturbed on the boundary with Fineshade Wood and the proposed western extension. The mains gas and water pipelines crossing the land are not being rerouted, so a similar corridor of agricultural land above these will also be retained undisturbed. These will be developed as wildlife corridors that do not exist at present due to the agricultural cycle and will be bordered by hedgerows once the adjacent areas are restored.
- Following site restoration the existing site carpark will be retained for public access to the restored land. The restoration proposals will result in the potential for footpaths created through the restored area to be linked up at several points with the existing public footpath MX15 in Fineshade Wood.