We worked closely with the Roads Service and consultants on a suitable survey methodology for the Environmental Impact Assessment.
The Environmental Statement was published in April 2007 - a key job for us was to ensure that the correct procedures were followed under the Habitats and Birds Directives.
Annual swan surveys commenced in 2005 and show that swans remain on site all winter. Numbers of whooper swans using the fields increased year-on-year, peaking in the winter of 2009/2010.
The numbers have decreased in recent years, this decrease coincides with high and prolonged levels of flooding and increased use of fields for winter sheep grazing. Such decreases mean the site’s carrying capacity has not yet been fully tested but the pattern of usage throughout subsequent winters was maintained. We are satisfied that the fields have not yet reached their carrying capacity and there is enough room and food for even more swans.
Observations also show the swans do not appear to be disturbed by passing road traffic and indeed a higher proportion than would be expected utilise the fields adjacent to the Toome bypass built in 2003.
Some fields are not currently used by whooper swans because they are too small - whooper swans like large fields and an open vista. Roads Service has agreed it would work with landowners to remove fences to increase field size before the road is constructed, making those fields available for swans to use.
We then compared this to how many swans would be affected by the loss of some fields to the road, and found that all those swans could be provided with alternative habitats by the field size increase we suggested.
A number of other mitigation measures were also agreed, such as sensitive construction to avoid damage, sustainable drainage, and thorough monitoring of the swans during and after construction.
Following agreement with the Roads Service on mitigation measures, we were eventually satisfied the proposal would not result in harm to the swan population, or the habitat, and withdrew our objection, conditional on the mitigation measures.