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Railways: Bridges

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL4028, tabled on 15 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 1 November (HL3360), which Historic Railways Estate structures have had infilling and demolition contracts issued since the programme was paused in the summer; what was the value of each of those contracts; whether the review of future maintenance proposals will also take account of the ecological sensitivity and environmental impact; and whether the core membership of the Stakeholder Advisory Forum includes ecological and environmental expertise.

Answered on

22 November 2021

There is only one Historical Railways Estate structure, Barcombe Bridge, where the contract/price acceptance was undertaken since the infilling and demolition programme was paused on 23 July 2021. The procurement process for minor works to this structure commenced on 5 May. Although a price of £175,838.79 was accepted on 12 August the acceptance letter clearly states that all infill activity has been paused and no works should commence until National Highways have been given confirmation to do so.

The acceptance letter also makes clear that works should not commence until the site has been checked by the ecologist and that National Highways will not pay for any works unless it has been specifically authorised in writing.

Ecological impacts and environmental considerations are taken into account as part of the planning process and National Highways continue to conduct their own ecological assessments and also ensure Natural England (and devolved partners) are involved as necessary. As a matter of course, for all major works proposals National Highways already conduct the following:

  • A desktop review of the area (looking for SACs, SSSIs, conservation areas and published sightings of protected species).
  • Site visit by an ecologist, including a Preliminary Ecological Assessment, where they review the structure and surrounding area to identify possible mammals, reptiles & amphibians as well as protected plant species, birds nesting & invasive species. If anything is discovered additional surveys are undertaken, and, if necessary, applications for the relevant licences are submitted.

The Stakeholder Advisory Forum includes a range of stakeholders with an interest in the Historical Railways Estate with membership kept under review as stated in its Terms of Reference.