Network Rail transforms work compound into habitat to protect wildlife

Left to right: Hamish Critchell-Ward (Environmental Manager for Network Rail), Cllr Clive Hallam, Tara Scott (Route Infrastructure Engineer for Network Rail), Cllr Lora Lawman, Cllr Harriet Pentland (North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for Climate and Green Environment)

Network Rail has transformed a site in Finedon – which was a temporary work compound whilst vital railway upgrades took place – into a specific area to protect wildlife for years to come.

Land just off Finedon Station Road was used by engineers as they carried out vital electrification work as part of the £1.5billion Midland Main Line Upgrade.

Once the railway improvements completed in April, Network Rail and Amey developed the first specific habitat as part of an innovative project to manage protected species.

Around 40,000 tonnes of material were moved off the site to allow teams to complete landscaping work in preparation for the new nature reserve. The material which was moved is being used by local businesses and for another work compound, meaning none of it has gone to landfill.

The site will contain ponds which will be the right habitat for great crested newts – as well as grassland, wetland areas and open woodland. Trees and plants will attract birds, butterflies, and bees.

Network Rail carefully planned the project to bring faster, more reliable train services for passengers – whilst increasing biodiversity and mitigating the impact the major work has on wildlife.

This commitment meant that instead of installing fencing and then moving any great crested newts from work sites, teams could protect their habitat by helping to increase their population.

Tara Scott, Route Infrastructure Engineer for Network Rail, said: “As we carry out vital work to improve the railway, we are continuing to look for innovative ways to boost biodiversity. We were committed to turn this land in Finedon into an area for wildlife once we’d finished using it – and it’s great to see progress on our first new habitat.

“We also want to thank residents who live near the Finedon Station Road site for their patience whilst the essential railway upgrades took place. Now the work compound has gone, the new site will attract wildlife to the area.”  

Michael Whitehead, Principal Environmentalist, Amey Consulting, said: “We have applied our environmental consulting expertise to create diverse ecological habitat, in support of Network Rail’s journey to Biodiversity Net Gain. This project presents a strong example of sustainable thinking, with clear benefits to the local environment and neighbouring communities, as well as carbon reduction in the planned planting of trees and reuse of all clean engineering fill materials from the site.”

Cllr Harriet Pentland, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for Climate and Green Environment, said: “Protecting our green environment is a key priority for the council and we are committed to working with partners to ensure that this happens in the area.

“We are delighted to see this former compound site transformed into a pocket of wilderness which is ideal for supporting an abundance of wildlife. Not only is this important for nature but it also helps to enrich our lives too.

“The project has also diverted materials from going to landfill by cleverly re-using them – an innovative way of reducing our environmental impact.”