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Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA), 2020


Rachel Finan

Marine Environment

GAIA Site is located on an area of land which lies predominantly north of the M8, approximately 10km to the west of Glasgow City Centre, south of the River Clyde. Prior to construction the site comprised of a number of land use and landscape types including agricultural farmland, riparian margin, river corridors and existing roadway. The Proposed Development includes two new watercourse crossings providing new connections to the wider transport and cycle path networks, along with new/upgraded single carriageway road, new shared footway/cycleway – all of which will aim to deliver improved transport connections to and from Glasgow Airport and surrounding development areas.

A Marine Licence was required for all construction works below the Mean High-Water Spring (MHWS) tidal limit associated with the proposed development. There were certain conditions included within this licence that WBCEL had to adhere to e.g., an otter Species Protection Plan (SPP) was submitted to Marine Scotland in advance of the works; an ECoW was required to be present during in-river works; works to be completed in accordance with the GAIA ES with specific reference to marine mammals, migratory fish, and invasive species; and checks to be undertaken for cetaceans and seals prior to the works.

For works being undertaken within/adjacent to the River Clyde, and to ensure compliance with the Marine licence, Wills Bros engaged with a specialist Marine Mammal Observer to oversee the works. The MMO undertook surveys prior to works commencing; they undertook a watching brief during the installation/dewatering of cofferdams; and they completed checks within the cofferdams to ensure that no sensitive aquatic/ marine receptors were trapped within these structures; and they provided advice as required.

Whilst undertaking route work on site in October 2020, one of the Site Agents noticed a stranded marine mammal within the watercourse. The Wills Bros ECoW at GAIA identified this as being a Northern bottlenose whale which was unfortunately stranded in the Black Cart Water directly opposite the southern end of the Black Cart Cycle Bridge. Wills Bros ECoW actively engaged with Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) who assembled a team to try to rescue the animal, but on this occasion, this rescue was not successful. Wills Bros were praised by BDLMR for their assistance. Wills Bros are proud to have carried out works compliantly with our MMO/ECOW, coordinating with marine mammal societies and relevant professionals.