Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

Work at Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

As a direct result of community feedback, we’re taking down the two lines of pylons between Nailsea and Portishead substation, which run very close to people’s homes. This will help reduce the impact of new T-pylons we’re building in the area.

One of the lines is being replaced with 132 kV underground cables – between the west end of Nailsea and Portishead substation.


To help us prepare for constructing the underground cables, we’ve been installing fencing along the route, including the section through Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.

The fencing is to mark out the boundary of the construction corridor and to prevent grazing cattle wandering into the centre of the working area.

Environmental and ecological mitigation work

During 2018 and 2019, we carried out several ecological surveys in the reserve, including those for bats, badgers, great crested newts and reptiles, otters, water voles, and birds.

The nature reserve contains several species of protected birds (Schedule 1 birds) and we’re taking special care to prevent disturbance and to safeguard their nesting sites. Before starting construction, we’re creating specialised buffer zones and relocating 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.

We’ve also been busy implementing schemes to reduce disruption to other wildlife at the reserve. Measures include installation of temporary exclusion fencing to prevent protected species from entering the construction areas. Any species found have been safely moved to designated sites within the reserve.

This translocation lasts for a period of at least 60 days leading up to the hibernation period.

To ensure protected species don’t return to the construction area we’ll need to prune trees and cut grasslands, scrub and hedgerows down to ground level.

After the hibernation period ends in spring 2020, the next step is to carry out another search to ensure the construction area is free of protected species and 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.

What’s next

We are in the process of finalising the exact route, design and timetable for construction of the underground cables, which is expected to start in early 2020.

Before construction begins in each area, we’ll be providing updated project briefings to the parish and town councils and inviting residents and businesses along the route to attend public drop-in events.

More details will be available on this soon.

Keeping you up to date

We’ve installed information boards at the reserve with a summary of our work and to promote the contact details for our community relations team who are available to answer any queries.

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


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