The loss of biodiversity is a widespread national and international issue - with a number of species becoming extinct in the UK in recent years. Highways England’s road network includes a substantial area of land stretching to all parts of England. Highways England can manage and develop the network to reduce its contribution to this problem, and there is a real opportunity to move forward to a time when Highways England’s work positively improves biodiversity.
Highways England will ensure that biodiversity is fully considered during the building of any new roads and opportunities will be sought to work with stakeholders and enhance the network for wildlife. Highways England will manage its existing landholding in a more wildlife friendly manner, creating more pollinator friendly grasslands, and will seek opportunities to reduce existing barriers for wildlife, by creating underpasses and overbridges that will allow wildlife to move more freely around the road network.
These works will be supported by a £30 million programme over a five year period, and Highways England has committed to reporting on these works on an annual basis. Critically, success will depend on how successful Highways England is in embedding consideration of biodiversity across all parts of the business.
The 2016-17 report sets out the progress Highways England has made with many of the actions in the Biodiversity Plan. We have worked closely with partners, including Natural England with whom we have prepared management plans for 15 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. We have also worked with Natural England and Network Rail on work on common transport corridors. And we are developing a way to understand the loss or gain of biodiversity on the land we hold.