Ecologists at Environmental Consultancy EDP play a key role in the Plasdŵr masterplanning team. Dai Lewis, Director and project lead at EDP, explains how ecology is being considered throughout development.
“EDP’s role in the Plasdŵr masterplanning team is to consider ecology, trees, heritage and archaeology at every stage of development. We help to maintain the landscape character of the area and ensure its best features are protected where possible. We also do field work – going out to assess what wildlife is in the area and safely removing them to other areas if needed.
“Green infrastructure has been a key component in Plasdŵr from the first planning stages and we’ve influenced the project from the start. In that respect, it’s one of the best projects I’ve worked on. The masterplanning team appreciates that green space will make Plasdŵr a better place to live, values our expertise and recommendations and works to make them a reality wherever possible.
“We were preparing the outline planning application and the associated Green Infrastructure Strategy for the scheme around the same time as Cardiff Council was outlining its new Green Infrastructure supplementary planning policy, so the two have informed each other and are closely aligned. Our ongoing work on the Strategic Green Infrastructure Management Strategy (SGIMS) outlines how the environment and local wildlife have informed the masterplan, including protected areas and species and how these will now be incorporated into the proposals and protected and managed in the longer term.
“While the human residents of Plasdŵr will have a network of footpaths, cycleways and roads, wildlife living on or near the development will be able to use a network of green corridors. Green corridors will make it possible for wildlife to travel around the site safely between key areas, as well as providing additional foraging opportunities and places to rest, roost or nest.
“Careful consideration has been given right across the wider development to accommodate wildlife in even the smallest design details. Examples of this within Plasdŵr include leaving gaps underneath garden fences to allow hedgehogs to pass through, putting small ladders in drains for newts to climb up or making roads easier to cross by making pavements lower in places and installing ‘hop overs’ with planted islands in the middle of roads so wildlife only has to cross one lane of traffic at a time.
“There are some protected species living on the development, including a small population of great crested newts living on a pond in the middle of the site. We’re creating a network of ponds around the site connected by green corridors, so the newts have safe places to live designed for their needs. Bats living in the area are also protected, so we’re ensuring there’s a network of trees and flight paths in place for them.
“We’ve determined which hedgerows will stay and which will be removed around the wildlife populations. Although only a few hedgerows around the site are protected as being ‘important’ for local wildlife, we won’t remove any hedgerows we don’t need to. Wherever hedgerows do have to be removed, we time the removal to cause as little disruption as possible to local wildlife – for example not removing them during bird nesting season or reptile hibernation season – and take steps to minimise the impact on local wildlife by planting new ones, reconnecting these to the retained network.
“We’re still in the early stages of development, but we’ll continue to work on the project throughout the next 20 years as Plasdŵr evolves. Every time a decision is made which could impact local ecology, we’ll be there to offer our expertise. This is a project I feel proud to be a part of, where our contribution as ecologists is valued and we’re able to make a case for what we feel is right. It’s encouraging to see Cardiff Council policy also moving in this direction – hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”