The Richborough Power Station site is located in an ecologically sensitive area and in recognition of that we have undertaken extensive ecological work.
Our first step was to undertake a biological records search to identify protected and notable species and designated sites within 2km of the site. At the same time an 'extended' Phase 1 habitat survey classified the major habitats within the site and assessed its potential to support protected and notable species.
The site includes a small part of the Woods and Grassland Minster Marshes Local Wildlife Site and Hacklinge Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and is on the boundary of Ash Level and South Richborough Pasture Local Wildlife Site.
Furthermore, the nearby Sandwich Bay is part of a site of European importance for wildlife, partly on account of its value to breeding and wintering birds.
Following the extended Phase 1 habitat survey a range of protected species surveys were undertaken, including surveys for:
- Great crested newt
- Water vole and otter
- Terrestrial invertebrates
- Protected and notable plants
As a result we have developed a good understanding of the ecology of the site, allowing us to ensure that appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures can be designed and incorporated into the redevelopment proposals for the site.
This survey information, together with an assessment of the effects from the development proposals and proposed mitigation measures, are contained in an Environmental Statement, which was prepared and submitted with the planning application (in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations).
Some of the main issues we have identified include:
Bats were recorded roosting in some of the buildings on the site. A European Protected Species (EPS) Mitigation Licence application for bats has been approved by Natural England and all necessary mitigation has already been implemented at the site including the creation of a bat hotel and bat roosting boxes.
The site provides important habitat for a range of breeding birds, including four specially protected species: peregrine falcon; marsh harrier; Cetti's warbler; and possibly marsh warbler. Breeding territories for these species were recorded in peripheral areas of the site, or associated with the SSSI.
The cooling towers which used to stand on the site were used as a nest site by a pair of peregrine falcons. Before demolition a new nest box was installed on the site in accordance with a Peregrine Falcon Mitigation Strategy approved by Natural England, and the pair will be monitored in order to avoid disturbance to the breeding pair or any young.
In addition, a mosaic of brownfield habitats have developed across the site, which support a range of notable invertebrate species.
A landscaping strategy has been prepared as part of the proposals, which incorporate appropriate ecological mitigation and a range of measures to enhance the ecology of the site. The western part of the site will be protected and enhanced as part of the proposed development and appropriate measures will be implemented to ensure no adverse impacts will occur to nearby designated sites.