Protecting the Environment at First Light Pavilion

Work is well underway at the First Light Pavilion project and the site had an area of ground that contained “Phytophthora austrocedri,” which is an aggressive fungus-like pathogen, which is infecting juniper trees at a large number of upland woodland sites in Northern Britain causing dieback and mortality.

The juniper trees had been removed from site a few years previously, but there were concerns that the soil could still contain the pathogen. It was not allowed to be removed from site as natural spread is likely to occur via movement in water and soil, and possibly via animal and/or human activity and the presence of water courses and areas of standing water are likely to favour pathogen spread at a site.

The site team have worked closely with the Forestry Commission, the Client – University of Manchester and ecologist to develop a suitable methodology as the area of soil had to be moved due to the footprint of the new building. Following discussions, it was decided that the materials would be buried on site under the new concrete footpaths. The material had to be temporarily stockpiled on site and was placed on visqueen, in a secure, signed area to prevent further cross contamination.

Once work began on site, the material was placed 1m down under the level of the new footpaths to encapsulate this contaminated material. After each movement of material, all plant, machinery footwear etc. was washed down to prevent the spread of the fungus.

As part of reusing the material on site, the project has commissioned a Materials Management Plan (MMP), which allows the site team to reuse the soil on site to cover the finished dome, which will demonstrate both environmental and financial savings. The original plan was to fully export / cart away the excavated material (i.e. top soil and sub soil), but following discussions with the environment team, it was decided that by having an MMP in place, this provided value engineering to reduce cost on the project and the environmental impact by re-using site won material – storing this material in the adjacent farmers field. This saved the project over £600K, and prevented over 2000 wagon vehicle movements.

The site team used a drone to survey the stockpiles for volumes, which are recorded on the Material Tracker. The material is due to be stored for just under a year before being repositioned on the dome’s roof.

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