Wardell Armstrong Project Used as Case Study in New Guidance for Bats and Artificial Lighting

Wardell Armstrong has been involved in the “Land off Foxlydiate Lane, Webheath” development site since 2015. We were commissioned to provide technical expertise on numerous disciplines including ecology for the planning application for a large residential development with associated primary school, village centre and open space. Ecology surveys for bats, badger, breeding birds, great crested newts, dormice, reptiles, otter and water vole were undertaken between 2015 and 2017 to inform the Ecological Impact Assessment of the Ecology and Wildlife Environmental Statement (ES) Chapter.

Detailed bat activity surveys were undertaken to identify important bat foraging and commuting corridors across the site. This information was then included on an Ecological Constraints and Opportunities Plan for the site. We reviewed the Worcestershire Green Infrastructure (GI) Concept Plan prepared by the Worcestershire GI Partnership which identified and prioritised opportunities to protect, enhance and link multifunctional GI assets. This information was then shared with the project design team to guide the design of the development and identify areas for retention, enhancement and habitat creation.

A ‘landscape-led’ masterplan was developed, using the initial GI Concept Plan, which incorporated dark corridors to provide connectivity across the site and into adjoining off-site habitats. These dark corridors integrate the majority of hedgerows where bat activity was recorded, and link these hedgerows to other GI features, such as woodlands and watercourses likely to be used by bats. These dark corridors were then integrated into a site-wide Green, Blue and Dark Infrastructure Parameters Plan, which was included in the Ecology ES Chapter.

We agreed the measures to reduce the artificial lighting impacts to acceptable levels through early consultation with stakeholders, including the Highway Authority and Local Planning Authorities. A sensitive lighting strategy was prepared, guided by our Ecological Impact Assessment, proposing the outline scheme of lighting for the completed development. The following good lighting design principles were used within the lighting design so that columns could be minimised, illuminance reduced to <0.5 lux within dark corridors and to control obtrusive lighting spill:

  • careful location and orientation of columns with suitable optics;
  • relocation of infrastructure such as bus stops and dropped curbs;
  • use of cowls and dimming technology;
  • sensitive highway design narrowing carriageway widths within GI corridors; and
  • stand-off zones to features such as highway T-junctions, corner junctions and road crossings.

In addition, through our discussion with the Landscape Team, structural landscaping was agreed to buffer GI and dark corridors and new adjacent tree planting proposed to minimise new permanent gaps in hedgerows; when mature, these trees will assist bats to fly at higher levels over GI crossing points.

Early consultation and collaborative planning on this project allowed us to take a GI-led approach for the project design and to integrate Green, Dark and Blue Infrastructure Parameters which provide benefits for bats as well as other wildlife using the site.

Following submission, we were contacted by The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) to use this project as a case study for dark corridors within their new ‘Bats and Artificial Lighting at Night’ Guidance Note published in 2023. We were delighted that our client agreed to BCT’s request and this project has been included in their Bats and Artificial Lighting at Night Guidance Note with a mention to Wardell Armstrong.

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