Greenspace Ecological Solutions are delighted to have assisted the Kent County Council in achieving planning permission for a 10.5km length of towpath which extends along the River Medway between Aylesford and Barming in Kent. Maidstone River Park.
The surveys, required prior to the improvement works to the shared pedestrian and cycle path, were required to establish the potential for species such as bats, dormice, otters and water voles to be impacted by the proposed works.
Trees to be affected were initially surveyed for features suitable to support roosting bats. Where design alteration could not retain trees with potential, further evening emergence surveys and/ or elevated inspections were later conducted. Suitable habitat for dormice was identified and subject to standardised dormouse survey techniques. Due to the steep sided nature of the river banks, the surveys for otters and water voles required specialist measures, with field sign inclusive of droppings/spraints, feeding remains, burrows/holts and footprints searched for from the Greenspace survey RIB.
The surveys confirmed the presence of bats within trees and dormice within habitats to be affected by the proposed. No field signs indicative of use by otter or water were recorded along the length.
Consultation with the KKC Senior Public Rights of Way Officer enabled the project to be re-designed to ensure retention of all trees and the majority of habitats identified as in use by bats and dormice, thus avoiding the delays and costs associated with European Protected Specie’s Licencing. Although considered absent at the time of the survey, the KCC were keen to allow the historically present otter and water vole populations to re-establish. Consequently, recommendations for the provision of otter holts within suitable bankside location and the establishment of species-rich riparian zones were also provided.
Having opened in 2017, the towpath has been heralded as ‘an ideal way for cyclists and walkers to explore the Maidstone River Park’. Providing an ideal get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Greenspace would like to congratulate the design team and the associated sponsors on their achievement and hope the ecological integrity retained throughout the project will serve to provide enjoyment for generations to come.