We’re working to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain in Hope Valley Railway Upgrade

We have been working closely with VolkerRail and Story Contracting on a large project in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire to enhance biodiversity by implementing Biodiversity Net Gain in the surrounding area during railway upgrade works.

Ecus Communications Team
Written by:

Ecus Communications Team

May 5, 2022

We are working with Volker Rail and Story Contracting on a project near Bamford station and Sickleholme Golf Course, to improve journey times on the trains between two major northern cities: Sheffield and Manchester.  At the moment this particular stretch of track becomes very congested as it is shared by both freight and passenger trains.  The project is focussing on installing a freight loop for trains to pull in and allow passengers to pass, which means cutting into a large part of the embankment bordering the golf course. 

 As part of Biodiversity Net Gain requirements of the project, our multidisciplinary ecology, habitat, and landscape teams are working together to ensure the natural environment and wildlife habitats are significantly improved as a result of the work. We are planting approximately 18300 trees and shrubs (including 420 metres of new hedgerow) on Sickleholme Golf Course to compensate for the railway upgrade works and provide biodiversity gains to the local environment. 

 The Environment Act 2021 became law last November (2021) and the Act includes the requirement for new developments to provide at least a 10% biodiversity net gain. To meet this requirement, businesses need to measure biodiversity gains using a biodiversity metric – a habitat-based methodology to assess an area’s value to wildlife. For this project we’re estimating gains of around 50-60%, meaning the compensation work goes far beyond national requirements. 


The ambitious planting programme includes in excess of 150 heavy standard native trees, such as Oak, Rohan, Maple and Birch, and hedgerow species such as Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Elder, and many other species local to the area. We are working closely with the golf course to ensure that the work both retains and enhances the nature of the landscape, and its use as a golf course. 

 In addition to the tree planting works we will also be creating 9000 square metres of enriched grassland by seeding with wildflower and grass mixes, and we will be installing bird and bat boxes across the golf course. 

"This ambitious landscaping, ecological and habitat improvement scheme is part of a bigger picture of collaborations with companies such as Volker and Story Contracting to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain. Our teams really enjoy working collaboratively with our clients to deliver ecological and environmental benefits alongside genuine economic benefits in the North of England. Not only are we enhancing the environment but we’re bringing benefits to commuters and the local community."

Dr Andy Ainsworth

Regional Director

"This has been a really exciting opportunity for our landscape architects, ecologists and habitat creation teams to work closely to design and now create a large scale project. Our client has gone above and beyond the typically required 10% gain and we’re working with them to leave a positive legacy for biodiversity."

Iain Weston

Environmental Project Manager