The trunk road network which connects Scotland’s cities, towns, airports and ports is overseen by Transport Scotland. In 2013, BEAR Scotland was appointed as the Operating Company responsible for managing and maintaining the trunk road network in the North West Unit. With a total length of 1,422 km the North West Unit extends from Scrabster on the north coast, to Campbeltown in the south.
Transport Scotland as an Executive Agency help the Scottish Government meet the objectives they set for a more sustainable future. This includes encouraging the Trunk Road Operating companies to make sure they work as closely as possible with the communities they serve, maximising community benefits, and encouraging innovation. This environment is fostered through the requirements set out in the 4th generation contract but also and perhaps more importantly through active partnership between the wider team, client and contractor. Through this close working relationship, BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland can deliver the service that the communities of the north of Scotland expect. This partnership helps to deliver better value for money and supports the trunk road networks ability to adapt to future challenges.
This 4th Generation term contract has been built on good practice across the industry and has evolved and been refined during the previous generations of the contract. In 2016 BEAR Scotland committed to commence the CEEQUAL process, pursuing a Whole Team Award in conjunction with Transport Scotland.
Services being provided by BEAR Scotland under the term contract include road and bridge maintenance, minor improvements, incident management and support, lighting the network and minimising the risk of landslides.
The following work types were considered in detail during the 2018/19 CEEQUAL assessment in the North West Unit:
- Roads Planned Maintenance (maintaining the structural integrity)
- Bridge Construction and Maintenance
- Winter Service Operations
The following sections outline examples of best practice with regards to sustainability identified during the verification assessment period.
Schedule 5 Part 8 and the 4G procurement strategy and project execution plan identified from the outset that the sustainable road maintenance, carbon emission reduction and environmental protection were the key aims of the 4G contracts based on the Scottish Governments targets. Schedule 5 Part 8 of the contract outlines the sustainable development-based contract strategy. BEAR Scotland comply with this and are subjected to regular audits to check compliance. In addition to this the 4G North West Trunk Road Network is subject to environmental management system audits from the Performance Audit Group who are employed by Transport Scotland as well as LRQA, an external certification body. A good level of performance was achieved in all North West audits with continuous improvement being demonstrated in the audit reports and BEAR Scotland maintaining certification to the ISO 14001 standard.
Relations with the Local Community
BEAR Scotland is keen to support local communities and promote community benefits that support Transport Scotland in delivering the objectives stated in the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Transport Future and the UK Government’s Get Britain Working Policies. Throughout the verification assessment period BEAR Scotland carried out several community initiatives and engagement projects with schools, colleges and universities as well as developing young people within the Unit in accordance with the Scottish Government’s Creating Opportunities Together document.
Examples of this work includes fundraising events for charities including Cash for Kids, SAMH – Scottish Association for Mental Health, Macmillan Cancer Support and Movember. Keep Scotland Beautiful’ s Week of Action, aimed at raising awareness of roadside litter across Scotland was also supported with details of the campaign shared on social media.
BEAR Scotland took part in The Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland Kirkcaldy Open Day which was held to mark the establishment of the charity’s new Fife Sporting Memories Club. BEAR is supporting the national charity which aims to help tackle dementia, depression and loneliness through the power of sport. The charity helps connect communities and is the first of its kind dedicated to the development and use of sports reminiscence, inclusive physical activities and intergenerational activities to support isolated older people across the country.
Graduate engineers from BEAR Scotland supported Pitlochry High School and the Institution of Civil Engineers to deliver the Rapid Response Engineering Challenge (RREC) for a week in August. The RREC is a problem-solving activity for S1 and S2 pupils to help them understand the work of civil engineers, particularly in the event of a disaster. The object of the challenge was to explore the effects of natural disasters and the facilities which the construction industry must provide to save lives.
Engineers visited Milnathort Primary School in December and gave a presentation on different types of bridges. They gave the pupils an overview of some of the activities we undertake at BEAR Scotland and the bridges we maintain.
Pupils had been learning about structural designs including major bridges in Scotland.
A six-year-old primary school pupil from Fort William had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open a new puffin crossing in Corpach after being invited by BEAR Scotland to mark the occasion.
The honour came after the pupil at Banavie Primary School, showed great interest in the works, which started earlier in 2019 and saw the BEAR Scotland team install a new puffin crossing to improve pedestrian safety on the A830.
Roads Planned Maintenance (maintaining the structural integrity)
Environmental/Sustainability Assessment Scoring Matrix
The Transport Scotland’s annual process for roads structural maintenance includes an environmental / sustainability assessment scoring matrix which is used in the Roads Structural Maintenance value for money programming process. This ensures that key environmental and social criteria are considered during this process and factored into the programming of schemes each year.
Crack and Seat Programme
The Roads Structural Maintenance programme included a continuation of the use of Crack and Seat technique on the composite sections of the A9 Perth to Inverness road. Following on from the 10 schemes in the previous year two schemes incorporating this sustainable technique was constructed in 2018/19.
This process extends the life of the existing lower cement bound layers of the pavement by introducing a series of hairline cracks, which more evenly distribute the strain. It is a more sustainable solution than traditional pavement reconstruction methods as it reuses the existing cement bound layers and gives a more stable base to the carriageway, giving it an increased lifespan.
For each structural maintenance scheme progressed, a Statement of Intent (SOI) is prepared. The SOI includes a section on Proposed Options including details on the Sustainability Options Considered as illustrated below.
Statement of Intents are signed by representatives from both BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland confirming the agreement on the type and extent of pavement treatments for each structural maintenance scheme.
TS2010 (Stone Mastic Asphalt Mix)
TS2010 (Stone Mastic Asphalt Mix) was used in several roads planned maintenance schemes undertaken during the assessment period.
TS2010 has the following benefits:
- Superior durability
- Lower noise levels
- Good skid resistance
- Decreased lifetime costs
- Thin layer application
- Excellent ride quality
- Reduced use of expensive imported aggregates
- Increased use of a wider range of sustainable aggregate sources
As part of this programme, over 216,500m2 of TS2010 surface course was laid. This bespoke Transport Scotland surface specification provides an enhanced lifespan when compared to traditional alternatives and will reduce the need for future maintenance.
A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful Landslip Mitigation Works
The landslide mitigation catchpit works at A83 Rest and be Thankful have continued throughout the 2018/19 reporting period with two catchpits nearing completion. One additional catchpit at Phase 8 has also been progressed and excavated rock is being removed from this phase.
This £2.24M project on the main route in and out of the Argyll peninsula is designed to contain debris flow from landslides coming from the hillside above the trunk road.
The scheme involves removal of thousands of tonnes of natural rock with the current excavated total around 28,000 tonnes.
All the excavated material is being re-used at another landslide mitigation site on A83 at Glen Kinglass. This site is approximately 3 miles from Rest and Be Thankful and the excavated material is being used to form large bunds in exiting watercourse channels. These bunds are designed to withhold landslide debris flows from the hillside above the A83 Trunk Road.
These projects demonstrate sustainable solutions in addressing the risk of landslide debris flow impacting on the trunk road. Re-using all the excavated material not only minimises the waste from the Rest and Be Thankful site but also reduces transport emissions associated with removing this material with the site at Kinglas being only 3 miles from the source of the rock.
By taking this sustainable approach BEAR Scotland has currently mitigated the risk of landslide impact on the trunk road at 8 key locations with a future programme of work to address many more areas at both Rest and Be Thankful and Glen Kinglas.
Bridge Construction and Maintenance
A82 Clifton Culvert Replacement
On the A82 work started during the reporting period on the replacement of a substandard culvert at Clifton near Tyndrum.
As part of these works an ECoW was appointed to monitor the site activities and to work proactively with the BEAR Scotland to fulfil environmental requirements stipulated in the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and CAR licence. This included providing Environmental ‘Best Practice’ advice, undertaking ecological monitoring and carrying out site audits.
Environmental mitigation measures implemented on site include the installation of acoustic fencing to screen the adjacent minimarket, the use of silt fencing and the use of plant nappies underneath all items of plant.
The scheme required the original watercourse to be diverted around the previous sub-standard culvert. The sub-standard culvert was then demolished to make way for the new replacement box culvert.
In advance of the watercourse diversion, Heritage Environmental Limited (HEL) undertook electro-fishing works which resulted in the removal and relocating of three small brown trout from the main watercourse.
A887 Allt Lagain Bhain Bridge Replacement Scheme
Prior to being demolished and as part of the pre-construction works of the A887 Allt Lagain Bhain Bridge replacement scheme, BEAR Scotland undertook an Archaeological Watching Brief of the historical Lagganban settlement.
Several unrecorded features which are all with in the working corridor were discovered and recorded. Remains discovered included a number of small buildings, a garden plot and a possible smithy.
The survey also produced large numbers of ferrous objects and ceramics along with stratified deposits of slag, the latter possibly reflecting smithy waste.
All bats and their roosts are legally protected in Scotland by the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended). The Habitats Regulations 1994 (as amended in Scotland) implement the species protection requirements of the Habitats Directive in Scotland on land and inshore waters.
Pre-construction surveys on and around the environs of the Allt Lagain Bhain arch and road bridges indicated the presence of various species of bats including Daubenton’s and Soprano pipistrelle. As both bridges are to be demolished a European Derogation licence was applied for from SNH to destroy and exclude any bats roosting in the existing bridge structures.
A compensation roost in the form of a bat box has been put in place nearby to accommodate any bats found during the works. This will be utilised until the main compensation bat house is provided following the completion of the demolition.
Winter Service – Innovation
Winter Service is a core part of the business at BEAR Scotland. In preparation for 2018/19 Winter period, BEAR Scotland stocked 56,600 tonnes of salt to treat the North West and North East networks.
Salt currently used by BEAR Scotland is mined in the north of England and in Northern Ireland and transported by ship to the various ports around the North West Unit. It is a non-renewable resource and can adversely affect the surrounding environment.
Alternatives to reduce the amount of salt spread on the trunk roads continue to be researched by Transport Research Laboratory on behalf of Transport Scotland. In 2018/19 BEAR Scotland was again responsible for undertaking the brine trial applications on the A835 over the whole route the from Tore Roundabout to Ullapool. The brine trial continues to be carried out on the A835 in 2019/20.
Brine treatment offer potential benefits over traditional rocksalt. It produces an even coverage of the road surface and acts immediately to prevent ice formation whilst utilising a reduced salt content, minimising the potential for salt contamination of the local environment.
Future Improvement Opportunities
The main future improvement opportunity being implemented is the development of a system to ensure that on-site environmental mitigation is successful and is fully recorded. The Environmental Team have produced a checklist which can be used by construction teams to ensure that the site-specific mitigation measures outlined in the Site Environmental Management Plan are established and are effective for the duration of the works. The developed procedure will ensure clarity with regards to the process, and the mechanism will be fully integrated into the business management system.
Most of BEAR Scotland’s work is to maintain the existing Trunk Road Network. As a result of undertaking the CEEQUAL verification process the intention is to improve the design process to allow the consideration and implementation of environmental enhancements within projects. Such improvements could involve enriching local habitats or improving the landscape within high amenity-value areas. This would involve working with Transport Scotland, including the assessment of the local environment and research of potential enhancements by the Environmental Team, agreement of feasibility with designers once site-specific parameters have been identified and incorporation into the final designs.
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