Constructing Sustainability: St Erth Multi-Modal Hub

Led by Cornwall Council and designed to enable sustainable transport in West Cornwall, the Multi-Modal Hub alleviates road congestion issues and supports sustainable commuting by connecting to Cornwall’s rail line, A30 trunk road and bus network, as well as improving pedestrian and cycle access to St Erth railway station.

The site, previously used as a mine and scrapyard, had high concentrations of heavy metals, asbestos and hydrocarbons creating a complex array of challenges for the project team to overcome including: collapsing mine shafts, hazardous waste and the presence of Japanese Knotweed.

A comprehensive Waste Management Strategy was developed to resolve the contamination issues, resulting in less than 1% of the contaminated waste requiring off-site disposal. The project achieved a CEEQUAL Excellent Award (evidence-based sustainability award scheme for civil engineering projects) and an additional CEEQUAL Exceptional Achievement Award in recognition of the successful restoration of the heavily contaminated land.

The Principal Contractor, Wills Bros Civil Engineering, was also awarded the Considerate Constructors Scheme Gold Award for their commitment to reducing the impacts of construction on human and environmental neighbours.

The site is environmentally important to the local ecology. An Ecological Clerk of Works was appointed to advise and monitor the project throughout. The Environmental Strategy focused on minimum disruption and improved biodiversity and included:
• Promoting bat activity with additional roosting opportunities and maintaining flight pathways;
• Native planting and wildflower enriched seed mixes to support bee activity;
• Traditional Cornish hedging promoting foraging and shelter for animals;
• Retention of mature existing trees wherever possible;
• Translocation of 60 slow worms from an area of contaminated land to a purposely prepared habitat.

To reduce the carbon footprint and improve the local air quality several low energy solutions including electric vehicle charging provision, solar operated infrastructure and the promotion of more sustainable transport choices, such as the improved cycle network, was a crucial part of the design and project outcomes.

The improved facilities developed at the St Erth Multi-Modal Hub have enabled residents, visitors and commuters alike the choice of travelling sustainably were previously not always possible. The project has connected various forms of public transport in a way that is both affordable and reliable.

The scheme has improved the interconnectivity both to and from the West of Cornwall, surpassing usage expectations since its opening in June 2019. It has regularly removed more than 500 vehicles daily from the local highway network, which would otherwise be adding to the pressures faced on the already ageing and fragile infrastructure in parts of Cornwall.

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