National Highways saves the Biodiversity Day

20/05/2024
Chris Ames

National Highways is on course to achieve its commitment of no net loss of biodiversity 2025.

The national network operator has already delivered as many biodiversity units since 2020 as the forecast loss from its activities over the five-year period.

And it has already pledged to deliver at least a 10% biodiversity net gain on its major enhancement projects delivered between 2025 and 2030.

To mark Nature Week, coinciding with the United Nations Biodiversity Day on 22 May, the government-owned company highlighted the ‘nature-focused work’ it does with its partners around the country.

The biodiversity units are being delivered through enhancements built into major projects and through partnerships with conservation charities.

National Highways said it has delivered more than 4,500 biodiversity units since 2020, compared with an estimated loss of 4,166 biodiversity units without any biodiversity mitigation.

This includes creating or enhancing:

  • 799 hectares of wildflower grassland
  • 25 hectares of peat bog habitat
  • 2.4 hectares of pond habitat
  • and planting 621,000 trees across 106 hectares of woodland

The projects include:

  • transforming the site of a former open cast mine next to a major upgrade on the M6 near Wigan into new wetlands, grassland and areas of woodland
  • a 15-year agreement to help species-rich grasslands thrive on the Greena Moor Nature Reserve in Cornwall
  • delivering ‘diverse results for nature’, including a green bridge, alongside a major road improvement on the A30 in Cornwall
  • helping bat populations to thrive on historic railway structures across the UK.

Head of environmental delivery Tom Clancy said: ‘We know that roads can compromise the quality of the environment; fragmenting important habitats and putting pressure on plant and animal populations.

‘Our work is showing that it doesn’t have to be this way. As one of the biggest landowners in the UK, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Working with partners, we are making important progress in halting the decline in biodiversity and looking forward to going even further in the future.’

Seven projects in the South West and North East are being delivered through the Meadow Makers initiative, in partnership with conservation charity Plantlife, to protect and restore species-rich wildflower and waxcap grasslands, to help restore the biodiversity of over 100 hectares of existing grasslands.

Isobel Hall, Meadow Makers programme manager at Plantlife said: ‘Our grasslands are amazing - they store carbon, reduce flooding and provide our food.

‘But unfortunately, 97% of species-rich grasslands have been lost since the 1930's, accompanied by declines in rare species like Harebell and Ragged Robin.’

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