Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

Work at Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

From January 2020, we are starting work to install underground cables between the west end of Nailsea and Portishead substation.

Once the cables are in place and operational, our next step is to start taking down existing pylons owned by Western Power Distribution (WPD) that run close to and over homes in Nailsea.

We are removing the existing pylons as a direct result of community feedback.

The construction of the underground cables involves several different types of engineering activity and includes building temporary entrances and access roads, excavating trenches for cable ducts and joint bays and installation and connection of the cables.

Part of the cable route goes through Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve. To view the map showing the underground cable route, please click here.


To help us prepare for construction of the underground cables, we’ve been installing fencing along the route and at Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve to mark out the boundary of the construction corridor and to prevent grazing cattle wandering into the centre of the working area.

We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and we’re working closely with Natural England and local authorities to reduce the impact of our activities as best we can across the project. We have a team of experts working with us to make sure local habitats, plants and animals are identified and protected before and throughout our construction activity. We take special steps to move them out of harm’s way or to find ways of working so that they are not disturbed by our activities.

During 2018 and 2019, we carried out several ecological surveys and implemented schemes in Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.

To protect the nesting sites for species of protected birds in the reserve, we’re taking special care to prevent disturbance and to safeguard their nesting sites. We’ve created special buffer zones and relocated designated barn owl boxes. During late September 2019, some of the existing barn owl boxes were relocated and replaced at a ratio of 2:1, with a total of four new barn owl boxes installed at the reserve.

To prevent disturbance to wintering birds between September and April, core construction activities will be on hold. This excludes vegetation removal works, and with permission from the Local Planning Authority we may undertake minor construction activity for a limited duration.

Other work to protect and reduce disruption to local habitats and animals includes installing temporary exclusion fencing, carrying out surveys and daily checks to identify and prevent protected species from entering our construction areas.

Any species found have been safely moved to designated sites within the reserve – this is known as translocation.

The translocation period lasts for at least 60 days leading up to hibernation. After the hibernation period ends in spring 2020, the next step is to carry out further searches to ensure the construction area is free of protected species.

To ensure they don’t return to the construction area, we’ll need to remove any remaining vegetation, including trees and hedgerows where necessary.

Once construction is completed, vegetation that has been removed will be reinstated in its original location or as close to the route as possible, following discussion and agreement with relevant landowners.

This important work is being carried out sensitively by our contractor, J. Murphy & Sons Limited, and is being monitored by North Somerset Council.

Footpaths and bridle paths

When we’re working in the reserve, we’ll need to temporarily close some footpaths and bridle paths to control access at different times in the programme to keep the area safe for the public and our staff.

We will agree and coordinate any closures and diversions with North Somerset Council. More details will be available on this soon.

What’s next

We are working with our contractors to develop the detailed timings for installing the underground cables along the route and will publish more information when it is available.

Before we begin construction in Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve and in other areas along the route, we’ll be providing updated project briefings to the parish and town councils and inviting residents and businesses along to attend public drop-in events.

More details will be available on this soon.

Keeping you up to date

We’ve placed information boards at key locations within the reserve – these will be updated to keep you informed and up to date on our construction activity, including any temporary closures to footpaths and bridle paths.

We value and welcome your interest in the project Contact us.

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