Cambridge South station environmental legacy will deliver net gain in local biodiversity and wildlife.: Cambridge South Biodiversity Legacy

Wednesday 20 Dec 2023

Cambridge South station environmental legacy will deliver net gain in local biodiversity and wildlife.

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

Network Rail has entered into an agreement with Cambridgeshire County Council to restore habitats disrupted during the construction of the new station in Hobsons Park and deliver the targeted local biodiversity net gain of 10%.

The agreement comes just ahead of new legislation coming into force in January 2024 which requires new housing, industrial or commercial developments to deliver a net positive gain in wildlife for the local environment by creating new habitats and green spaces.

The Cambridge South station project will deliver a landscaping scheme that will enhance the existing habitats within Hobsons Park and in addition, provide almost 21000 square metres of land, set aside locally as compensation for the reduction of public open space within the park itself as a result of the construction of the new station.

The additional land will be used to replace habitats and provide new wildlife features. These include open grassland and wildflower meadows, hedgerows and scrub, seasonal and drainage ponds with enhanced riparian habitat, bat and bird boxes and song posts for corn bunting together with a mix of native trees and clusters of woodland habitat across the whole nature reserve.

While the landscaping scheme will deliver positive increases within the local vicinity of the station, additional measures are required to achieve the target of 10% biodiversity net gain, as features such as grassland and woodland cannot be fully mitigated on site.

To achieve the target, Network Rail is working with Cambridgeshire County Council’s innovative 140-hectare Lower Valley Farm scheme in Fulbourn, which has been set up to mitigate the climate crisis and to encourage businesses in all sectors to become part of the solution. 

The scheme is part of the council’s commitment to tackle the depletion of nature in Cambridgeshire with the aim to be a net zero organisation by 2030, and as a county by 2045, five years ahead of national targets.

As one of the biggest landowners in the UK, Network Rail recognises that it has a leading role to play in delivering the targets stated in the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. Delivering the net biodiversity gain in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council for Cambridge South demonstrates Network Rail’s commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural environment while delivering improvements to the national rail network for future generations.

Emma Sharpe, Network Rail’s senior sponsor for Anglia said: “Delivering a sustainable and lasting biodiversity legacy has been a key goal in delivering this new station. The agreement is the culmination of lots of hard work to not only compensate habitat and wildlife in Hobsons Park, but also secure 10% net gain in biodiversity through investment in the county council’s Lower Valley Farm scheme.

“We are committed to boosting our environmental credentials through the work that we do to enhance and maintain the railway, and as the first partner to invest in the Lower Valley Farm scheme we are proud to lead the way in partnership with the county council.”

Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Our innovative Lower Valley Farm site is one of the ways we are taking action on the nature crisis we face, following years of decline across our environment. Incredibly, one in six native plant and animal species is at risk of extinction in the UK today.

"It is up to all of us to go further, faster, because we need to put this right and protect our natural heritage. Our Fulbourn site means that developers across the area can make a positive contribution to enhance local ecosystems here in Cambridgeshire."

Notes to Editors

Biodiversity Net Gain

  • Biodiversity Net Gain was introduced through the world leading Environment Act 2021 and will be fundamental in helping the country meet its target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, while helping create more beautiful communities and deliver new homes and infrastructure.

Lower Valley Farm

  • The Lower Valley Farm, Fulbourn scheme has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council to diversify its farm use, mitigate the climate crisis and to encourage businesses to become part of the solution. For more information click here
  • Lower Valley Farm Biodiversity scheme provides 1000 biodiversity units through an innovative landscape scale initiative for local developers to secure their offsite biodiversity gain requirements.

Cambridge South

  • Cambridge South station, a new railway station for Cambridge, will support the vitally important biomedical campus and serve a growing community of science and health care specialists, employees and hospital visitors. #CambridgeSouth

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