Golf course planting gives rail contractor biodiversity gain

Tree planting at Sickleholme Golf Course (with full PPE to prevent injuries)

VolkerRailStory Joint Venture has an obligation to biodiversity net gain on its £80m contract to remove bottlenecks on the Hope Valley rail line between Sheffield and Manchester.

It is required to leave habitats in “a measurably better state” than before the scheme started

The contractor’s first assignment, therefore, is to plant trees and hedgerows.

Part of the rail upgrade involves construction of a a 1km passing loop alongside the existing railway to the east of Bamford station for passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains. Hedgerow and tree planting has been taking place at Sickleholme Golf Course in Bamford – a private members’ club – marking the start of the project’s net gain biodiversity landscaping plan.

VolkerRailStory and its environmental consultant, Ecus, are planting 172 standard trees, 18,000 whips, 410 metres of hedges of native species and 9,240 sqm grass at the golf course.

This, together with additional grassland, tree and hedgerow planting along the new railway loop, make up a biodiversity net gain target of more than 20%, set by the project at Bamford.

Pete Broomhead, VolkerRailStory’s environmental & consents lead from, said: “With much of the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade taking place within the Peak District National Park, it’s particularly important that we strive to leave a positive legacy in the local community and environment. The tree planting and biodiversity enhancements form part of numerous ecology and landscape management plans that the project has agreed with Sheffield City Council and the Peak District National Park Authority, so that we ensure that the project’s impact on local habitats and wildlife is kept to a minimum, and that we enhance and improve the natural environment that we’re working in.”

The second part of the project is at Dore & Totley – to install a second railway line, a new platform and accessible footbridge at the station. Here, VolkerRailStory is working towards 12% biodiversity net gain, through planting in Poynton Woods and Dore Triangle.

Ecus head of ecology Faye Durkin said: “This has been a really exciting opportunity for our landscape architects, ecologists and habitat creation teams to work closely together to design and now create a large scale project. Our client has gone above and beyond the typically required 10% gain and we’re working with them to leave a positive legacy for biodiversity.”

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