Temple’s Nigel Burton features in this month’s Environmental Scientist, he explains the way that sound is used to increase bat safety around large infrastructure projects.
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high-speed railway that is planned to run between London and Birmingham (Phase 1) and then from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds (Phase 2). A section of the route planned for Phase 1 lies across well-used Bechstein’s bat flightlines between fragmented ancient woodlands in North Buckinghamshire. This means that the railway could disrupt the movement of bats between roosts and foraging areas, with adverse effects on their conservation status.
Bats have sensitive and highly evolved acoustic apparatus and this, coupled with their complex habitat requirements and wide-ranging use of landscapes, means that they are vulnerable to disturbance, habitat fragmentation and death or injury caused by a wide range of development projects. Bechstein’s bats (see Figure 1) are of importance as one of the UK’s rarest and most endangered species, with some estimates that no more than 1,000 individuals exist in the whole of the UK. Added to which this specific population of 200–300 individuals is the most northerly in Europe and therefore of significant genetic value.
A variety of mitigation options were investigated to address the risk of bats colliding with trains as they fly the 800 m long western boundary of Sheephouse Wood, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), which abuts HS2. The construction of a conventional tunnel or the use of lighting were rejected for logistical feasibility or safety reasons.
To read the article in full click here. (P14-19)