Willmott Dixon has accelerated its commitment to delivering a 14% biodiversity net gain at its Silverwood School development by planting 350 trees within the school’s grounds.
The company is working with the school and Wiltshire Council to provide 350 places for SEND pupils aged from early years to post-16 on the school’s Rowde site by September 2023. A big focus of the project is sustainability, with the school being net carbon zero in operation, which will be achieved through features including biomass boilers and incorporating a large array of photovoltaic (PV) panels.
As part of the biodiversity net gain strategy, the Willmott Dixon team planted the tree whips, consisting of a native hedge mix, as the first element of site activity. These initiatives are part of a plan to deliver extensive ecological enhancements, including improved natural grassland to increase the foraging resource for bats and other species, and increasing hedgerows by more than 200%.
Sean McKeown, Executive Headteacher, said:
“Our school community has been talking about the planned developments and how pupils from across our Silverwood School sites will be involved in all the stages of the project. This week we get to see one of the first steps to ensuring the important work to develop the school will also work alongside ensuring the natural beauty and potential of the site continues.”
Cllr Jane Davies, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for SEND, said:
“It has been a pleasure to visit Silverwood School again, and talk to the Head and children about the wonderful biodiverse surroundings provided by the school grounds. This tree planting is one step in our commitment to provide a really positive educational experience as well as much needed additional SEND places. I look forward to visiting again soon and seeing how Silverwood continues to develop to ensure a great environment which works well for our students.”
Richard Poulter, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon’s South region, said:
“We are proud to be involved in this project and for the opportunity to work with Silverwood School to improve the biodiversity of the school site through the planting of 350 trees. Delivering an environmental net gain is a key aspect of the project, meaning we will leave the environment in a measurably better state by providing valuable habitats to enhance the natural world. It has been great to engage with the school’s staff and pupils to start making the biodiversity net gain ambitions a reality.”
The planting of trees at Silverwood School is just one of many schemes being undertaken by Willmott Dixon as it plants more than 10,000 trees a year over the next decade as pledged in the ‘Better Planet’ theme of the company’s 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy.
The company are also working with the National Trust to support tree planting by the River Aire, to increase the extent of the woodland and mitigate flooding, as well as forming a partnership with Wanderlands to plant 2,500 trees over the winter. In the Midlands, the company is working with the Woodland Trust in conjunction with Trent Rivers Trust to plant over 2,800 trees throughout Nottingham. These will be situated alongside the banks of the River Trent to help alleviate flooding and adapt to climate change.