Widnes WWTW PLC AMP5 Upgrade SchemeIncorporating Biodiversity into Asset Management Planning

Project: Widnes WWTW PLC AMP5 Upgrade Scheme

Client: United Utilities

Services: Amphibian Exclusion Fencing, Bird Screening, Pond Creation, Meadow Management, Dead Hedging, Barn Owl Box Installation

Sector: Water and Utilities

Location: Cheshire, UK

Scheme Overview:

United Utilities commissioned a major upgrade to their existing Widnes Waste Water Treatment Works in Halebank, Cheshire as part of their £4.5m AMP5 programme. The active treatment works borders the River Mersey which is heavily protected under both UK and European legislation as a RAMSAR, SSSI, SPA and SAC as well as being recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Due to the duration of the build programme it was noted by United Utilities Ecologists that the construction works would likely have a continuing adverse impact upon both overwintering birds and resident species throughout the schemes implementation.

Scope of Works and Solution:

Our highly experienced habitat team installed temporary one way amphibian fencing around the perimeter of the site and over wintering bird screening along the sites boundary with the River Mersey prior to construction works commencing. We returned to site post works to add the finishing touches by undertaking a series of habitat improvements.

We successfully created a new ditch and pond with margins specifically designed for ground nesting birds. Native wetland and wildflower seeding was used to help the site re-establish quickly and felling of self-seeded willow scrub was reused onsite to create a bank of wildlife friendly dead hedges throughout. The addition of barn owl boxes and snagging perimeter trees to deliberately create standing dead wood has significantly boosted biodiversity opportunity at the site.


The one way amphibian fencing combined with our well executed vegetation manipulation programme allowed the site to self-clear of amphibians prior to works commencing. This removed the need for the Ecologist to visit the site daily for 30 days resulting in a substantial cost and time savings for the client. The works ensured United Utilities continued compliance with the EA Habitats Directive standard for discharge into the adjacent River Mersey.

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