Milestone Infrastructure has been working to help client, Peterborough City Council, reach its biodiversity net gain target.

Across the UK, there has been a significant decline in diverse, good quality, and well-connected habitats, due to development pressures. Biodiversity net gain (BNG) aims to prevent this downward trend.

Through Natural England’s Biodiversity Net Gain Tool, each habitat within a construction boundary is assessed, and a baseline value is assigned. Where habitats are being lost or modified, units of losses are calculated within the metric. To produce net gain, habitat creation or improvement is required to reach the 10% net gain threshold.

Milestone has been working with Peterborough City Council to reach its BNG targets. On the Junction 15 carriageway expansion project in Peterborough, which saw Milestone work to expand the carriageway, alongside creating a new footbridge, onsite ecological surveys were undertaken by Milestone’s in-house ecology team to gain an understanding of baseline conditions on site.

Work was then completed to understand how BNG targets could be met, with various landscape designs considered and the final landscape calculated within the Biodiversity Net Gain Tool.

After several re-designs, the current net gain score stands at 12.94%. This is to be achieved through both onsite and offsite work including the re-seeding of grassland both on and off-site, the replacement planting of native seeding and the creation of a connected stretch of hedgerow just outside the works boundary.

To streamline the process of identifying potential off-site areas for BNG, which can be costly and time consuming, Milestone Infrastructure’s Environment Team has been trialling a web-based process, using web-based software AiDASH.

AiDASH uses a combination of satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to rapidly map defined areas/land parcels and identify habitats present.

The team has so far compared AiDASH software against the manual surveying and mapping methods and it was found to be consistent. In future, Milestone will look to reduce off site verification, with significant time and cost savings made using this tool to calculate the area for offsite BNG.

While for much of Milestone’s work there is no legal requirement for BNG, due to its commitments to protect the environment, Milestone has set targets on its developments, often beyond the 10% required.

Milestone is committed to protecting the environment and finding ways to make its operations more sustainable to ensure a future of safer, greener highways.

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