The charity making life better by water

Wildlife and the natural environment

The character and nature of the unique waterway environment should be protected. You should identify the key potential impacts of the scheme on the waterway corridor and how they are to be assessed and addressed. Impacts on waterway habitats should be minimised. Opportunities to enhance the quality and number of habitats on land and water should be grasped.

We will advise you whether we know of any environmental sensitivities, protected species or valuable habitats/features on the waterway at your proposed site. However you will need to make enquiries of regulatory or other public bodies, such as Natural England, CCW, the Environment Agency, local planning authorities and local authorities. The presence of a site with statutory protection (eg SSSI, SAC etc) based on the canal which may be affected by the proposed marina site may be an issue.

Further survey work

Refer to the Feasibility - Wildlife and the Natural Environment page to review the initial assessment work which should have been undertaken. The initial feasibility stage should have identified any statutory and/or non-statutory wildlife sites, and/or the actual or possible presence of protected species. Assuming these were no major issues requiring special consideration, the size, layout and design of the marina, and the timing and (possibly) phasing of the works will now need to take these and other wildlife issues, such as local/national biodiversity species and/or habitats, into account.

More detailed field survey work, carried out at suitable time(s) of the year by suitably qualified and insured professionals, will now be required. This should be informed by the results and interpretation of the desk study material. Potential mooring/marina sites and adjacent aquatic habitats may be acting as a refuge for species dependent on these habitats, so surveys for reptiles, amphibians, water vole and white-clawed crayfish must be carried out in addition to those normally required and those indicated by the desk study. The assessment periods for some species can be long, up to 12 months, dependent on the season and species abundance.

The survey work will give more information about what is present and locate the positions of features on the ground to inform design. It should confirm one way or the other the presence or likely presence of species identified as possibly present at the feasibility stage. Additionally there is always the chance that a species not found or present at the feasibility stage will turn up, especially if there is a long break between the feasibility and this stage. This could become a 'show-stopper', affect the timing of works or causing delays in construction if discovered later.

Evaluating the results

The results of this field survey work should be interpreted and evaluated by a suitably qualified professional. The data should be used to assess the impacts on biodiversity by the development, any associated infrastructure and new access roads (temporary during construction or permanent).

The data should also be used to assess the impacts on biodiversity by any increase in boat movements on adjacent stretches of channel. Frequently this is as significant, if not more, than the direct impacts of the development. The adjacent towpath is likely to have greater use associated with users of the mooring site on foot and by boat. The implications of this for biodiversity should also be evaluated. We are likely to want to consider implications of greater use of the waterway and towpath with you in more detail and can use this opportunity to provide you with examples of our practices for managing wildlife during the course of operating the waterways.

Mitigation and enhancement measures

The evaluation of the results should be used to inform issues such as the size of the mooring site, number of berths and types of craft using the site. This may alter the impacts caused by boat movements on lengths of waterway adjacent to the mooring site. Other mitigations may include the installation of soft bank protection along the edges of the waterway to prevent or reduce erosion of the banks.

The evaluation should also inform layout and design so that features such as designated wildlife sites and protected/national or local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species/habitats can be retained in situ. If all or part of a designated wildlife site or BAP habitat is affected and habitat recreation is required, then this should be on a like-for-like basis (i.e. if the interest is currently a wetland, then create wetland, don't plant trees instead).

If protected or BAP species are affected, these may need to be relocated to suitable habitat. In many cases, permission for this will have to be sought and granted by the relevant statutory authority. It should also be borne in mind that habitat creation or species relocation, even if permitted, is not easy and requires space, time and money. There are timing implications, such as restrictions on time of year when relocations can be carried out, which vary with the species involved. There may be conditions on the permission allowing relocation which stipulates that the species must be established in its new location before its old habitat can be destroyed. If space, topography, etc, allows, it is frequently easier and cheaper to retain features in situ.

The design should take the opportunity to use more environmentally friendly features such as soft edges, landscaping with native species of local provenance, and bat or bird roosting/nesting opportunities in or associated with new or existing buildings. Timing of the works will need to take into account the species present. This should include any clearance from the site of woody vegetation, which should take place in the winter to avoid disturbance to nesting birds.

The opening up of an offline mooring scheme will also impact on the movement of local fish populations. This will impact on local angling clubs if they have rights to fish the waterway and we recommend early discussions with our fishery officer and local angling clubs.

Ongoing management

A management plan for the site should be drawn up and implemented to ensure long-term survival of the biodiversity features, both existing and new, of the site.

Useful references and links

Last Edited: 16 February 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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