As part of Highways England’s strategy to improve traffic flow and improve the UK’s Strategic Highway Network, a section of the M5 between junction 4a to 6 was upgraded to become a SMART motorway encompassing new technology and deploy a running hard shoulder. Balfour Beatty Vinci JV was appointed by Highways England to construct the scheme and work commenced in December 2015.
The first phase of the vegetation clearance was in support of Ecological Mitigation works. To avoid any delays to the work programme, the vegetation had to be removed to ground level to enable the design team to undertake detailed site surveys to confirm the locations and construction details of gantries and new infrastructure. Prior to these site surveys, Ecologists surveyed all of the sites to determine the extent of habitats and species that occupied the highway verge. All vegetation was removed to a height of 500mm off the ground to enable the Ecology teams to complete a habitat survey and determine the mitigation for the species and habitats. The timing of this work was critical to avoid the beginning of hibernation which would delay work.
Contract Name: M5 SMART Motorway Upgrade
Main Contractor: Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV JV)
Duration: 18 Months
Contract Value: £1.2 million
Scope- Tree and vegetation removal to establish Ecological Constraints and to support the development of temporary infrastructure, detailed design and construction of new infrastructure.
Once the mitigation plans had been determined and implemented the vegetation was removed to ground level under the supervision of the Ecology teams.
The identified species included dormice, greater crested newts, badgers, and slow worms. Newt fencing was erected along the carriageway to prevent the newts from moving traffic and an exclusion zone was established around the badger setts.
Once satisfied that the Ecological Mitigation works had been successful and the construction details had been finalised ground and earthworks were able to commence in preparation of the construction of new gantries, communications, signage, fencing, barriers and drainage for the new SMART motorway.