Writing a construction method statement
All but the smallest developments will require the production of a Construction Method Statement (CMS), which would normally be secured through a planning condition of any permission granted.
The purpose of the CMS is to provide documentation that is available to all construction workers involved with the site works, detailing appropriate working methods and practices that will ensure that sensitive habitats and species are not adversely impacted by elements of the construction process, particularly where specific mitigation has been designed and approved as part of the planning permission granted.
The CMS will describe how each element of the proposal is to be carried out and what measures are taken at each stage to ensure the protection of biodiversity both within the site and in the surrounding area, and whenever an impact may occur off site as a result of on site processes.
- The CMS could state that "Sedimats" ™ will be used on the site to prevent silt and pollutant run-off into nearby watercourses, which could result in a change in water quality and an impact to fish and aquatic plants and animals within those watercourses
- Root protection zones are included within a CMS to prevent compaction of the soil and subsequent lack of oxygen and moisture to the root structures, as a result of heavy machinery being driven over root areas or from machinery, materials or fuels being stored too close to trees and hedges
- The location and size of the site compound is stated in the CMS. This is a bonded area where all refuelling of plant and machinery must take place and where all fuels, paints and other potentially polluting substances are stored, to prevent their leakage into the surrounding soil
- Lighting of the site, especially at night, may have the potential to impact on some habitats and the wildlife species they support. A lighting plan for the construction period may be part of the CMS
The CMS may include the provision of a "toolbox talk" to all construction workers on the site, given at the start of the first day of construction. The CMS should then be available in the site office for all site staff to consult as necessary. A key element of the CMS is that it must be realistically achievable by relevant construction workers at all stages of the development.
The CMS will also describe the order in which each element of the project is carried out and the timing of specific works, such as clearance of vegetation timed to avoid the bird nesting season; removal of tree roots at a time least likely to disturb hibernating reptiles or dormice; demolition of buildings when bats are least likely to be present.
The examples given above are just a few of the common issues addressed in the CMS for the project. It is strongly recommended that a suitably qualified consultant ecologist has input into the design of the CMS in order to ensure that all relevant issues in relation to the ecology of the site have been addressed.
The CMS must satisfy the Local Planning Authority (LPA) ecologist that all elements of the proposed procedures have been assessed for their potential impact on the ecology of the site and measures put in place to avoid the impact or to reduce the effects of the impact to an insignificant level.