Carol Bannock

Carol Bannock

Abstract | The long and winding road to better ecological outcomes

A key challenge for the New Zealand Transport Agency is for state highway improvement project teams to have adequate ecological information available at meaningful stages of project development. This enables the project team to make more robust decisions about ecological features potentially affected, and how to manage effects on them which may influence the preferred route alignment and road design considerations.

Theoretically, the earlier good information is received, the more likely it is that ecological features of high value can be avoided and mitigation requirements, especially larger structures, can be adequately factored into project design. At the early stages of project development there is greater opportunity to influence while the project is flexible enough to allow for changes to the route alignment and construction methodologies.

Generally the level of detail in an ecological impact assessment increases as the project evolves, and through the options assessment process the study area for ecological impact assessment becomes more focussed.

Thus here is the conundrum, where ideally the project would have as much information as possible at the options assessment stage, the reality is that it is often not feasible to undertake detailed investigations early on when a lot of options are on the table. There are different facets that contribute to this challenge that the Transport Agency need to address.

This presentation touches on these different issues that contribute to the key challenge of appropriate level of detail in ecological impact assessments, describing what has been done to date, what is planned in the not too distant future, and lessons learned in the journey so far.

Bio | Carol Bannock

Carol Bannock is a terrestrial ecologist with over fifteen years of experience working on highway projects. Carol worked in England for four years as a Biodiversity Officer on the M25 Sphere Motorway project where her role was to protect and enhance native biodiversity on motorway verges. Upon returning to New Zealand Carol was Environmental Manager for part of the construction of the Greenhithe Section of SH18, giving her experience on a major earthworks project. She worked with the Auckland Motorway Alliance, an operation and maintenance contract, for seven years where her role including developing their pest management plans and project managing Traherne Island’s restoration project. She now works as a senior environmental specialist with the New Zealand Transport Agency. Carol is passionate about road ecology, with particular interest in managing negative ecological effects and seeking ways to manage roads to benefit ecology.