Staffordshire County Council has specified ACO’s Climate Tunnels for the Redhill Employment Park development, providing a crucial migratory route for the great crested newts found on the site.
Needing a system that balanced the needs of both the highway and the great crested newts, Greg Watkins, Project Engineer at Staffordshire County Council, approached ACO about its Climate Tunnels.
Staffordshire County Council is committed to the encouragement of the natural environment and providing increasing biodiversity – with a wide programme of sustainable development across the county. As natural habitats - especially for amphibians - have decreased over the past few decades, the council is working to ensure that the remaining habitats are protected and managed to safeguard their survival.
Newt populations are dependent on the ability to travel between closely located ponds, linked by a suitable land habitat. For this, ACO’s Climate Tunnels were an ideal solution as they can be located strategically where it’s known the amphibians attempt to cross, so their migratory routes do not need to be disturbed.
The tunnels then provide a permanent road crossing solution, in line with legislation and the guidelines in place to protect the great crested newt.
The design of ACO’s Climate Tunnels means they can sit flush with the road surface, meaning less excavation is required for installation and also lower installation costs for contractors. Sitting flush with the road also means less chance of the tunnels flooding during periods of high groundwater levels.
In order to create the right climate for the amphibians, slots are included at the top of the tunnels to equalise ambient conditions between the tunnel and open air. This allows for consistent ventilation and a humid environment favoured by amphibians and also eliminates the problem of the tunnels drying out and dehydrating the amphibians, which can occur with other tunnel systems.
ACO’s Climate Tunnels are manufactured using extremely tough polymer concrete material, which has been tested to withstand loads of 400kN, so it is safe for traffic to pass over it. ACO does not use any metal components in the construction of its tunnels, eliminating the possibility of disorientating the amphibians with magnetic fields. The material itself is non-absorbent, with minimal thermal conductivity making the crossing more comfortable for amphibians.
Use of the ACO tunnels by great crested newts is being monitored by Staffordshire County Council and Froglife, the national amphibian conservation organisation. Early results are encouraging with four species of amphibian using the tunnels along with a variety of other wildlife.
Commenting on the use of ACO’s Climate Tunnels at the site, Cllr Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economy, Environment and Transport at Staffordshire County Council said: “When we discovered great crested newts on our new multi-million pound Redhill Employment Site, we knew we needed to find a solution to ensure their protection. After looking around at the products on offer, ACO’s Climate Tunnels were chosen, as they offered a discreet option that was animal-friendly. The on-going support from ACO’s technical team was also an added benefit.”
Regarding the Climate Tunnels, Dr David Smoker from ACO said: “Our Climate Tunnels are an ideal option for projects where the protection of amphibians and small animals is a paramount concern. Specifiers of the system are offered a range of options which can be tailored towards individual site requirements.”
For more information on ACO Wildlife’s range of products, visit: www.aco.co.uk/wildlife