20 February 2017
An independent study has concluded that Eco Park will significantly improve the biodiversity of the land around junction 13 of the M5.
Habitat improvements throughout the development, including new hedgerows, woodland meadows, ponds, species rich grasslands and a nature reserve, will lead to a 16% biodiversity improvement based on methodology determined by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Ecotricity’s designs for Eco Park – which consist of a Green Technology Business Hub, a sports complex and a nature reserve – aim to push the boundaries of sustainable development.
The report was conducted by independent consultants – WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff – and considered geographical information, architectural plans, habitat surveys and the site’s green infrastructure plan.
In addition to the 16% net habitat gains within the site, further biodiversity and habitat gains will be made for species including birds, bats, bees, reptiles and amphibians through the restoration of the “missing mile” of the Stroudwater canal – an area that wasn’t included in the study.
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “There is a perception that building on green fields can’t be very eco and it’s an easy conclusion to reach.
“What this study revealed is quite counter-intuitive. That developing farmland can actually be better for wildlife than farming it – provided the development is done in the right way, of course. Development versus green fields is a classic tension that plays out daily up and down the country. We undoubtedly need new houses and places of employment, at the same time we need to protect the environment - our approach is to push the boundaries of sustainable development to find a balance. But what we’ve found is more than that.
“There’s no denying that farming is responsible for the massive decline in wildlife in Britain over the last 50 years, but the idea that developing on that land is better for wildlife, is quite an exceptional one.
“To be able to boost biodiversity by building on green fields is an amazing possibility. If Eco Park goes ahead we hope that it might help set a new standard for the rest of the country”
The study focused on biodiversity gains for habitat, however there are separate enhancements being made for species, which haven’t been considered by the study. The 16% improvement equates to 13.8 biodiversity units.
The biodiversity study will be included as part of the FEI submission which will be issued to Stroud District Council in the coming weeks.