Great Western Route Modernisation GIS Mapping
A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used by the Environment team on the Great Western Route Modernisation project to aid in the identification of potential environmental consents across the project extents by identifying the distances of Over Line Electrification (OLE) foundations to environmental features.
OLE foundations across the entire project were converted from Computer Aided Design (CAD) format into a GIS shapefile so that they could be imported into a GIS model. Other information such as watercourse, Special Sites of Scientific Interest and ecological phase 1 survey data was also imported into the model.
Distances of each OLE foundation to environmental features such as water courses and badger setts were then measured using GIS spatial analysis tools that generated a database of the distance of each OLE foundation to the nearest environmental feature. This data was then exported to Excel where it could be filtered to identify any OLE stanchions likely to require environmental consents e.g. any OLE foundations within 16m of a Main River will likely require an environmental permit. These findings were then fed-back to the design team who were able to modify their designs to avoid or minimise potential environmental impacts, and ensure that the project ran to programme.
The use of GIS spatial analysis tools significantly increased the speed in which distances of OLE foundations to environmental features could be calculated compared. Previously, the distances were measured manually using Google Earth and would take approximately a week to undertake, using GIS this process could be completed in minutes.
Another advantage of using GIS was that the distances were calculated from the exact environmental feature boundaries, this considerably improved the accuracy of the distance measurements compared to the previous method, which relied on measuring distances with the ruler tool in Google Earth Pro and manually recording the distances into an Excel spreadsheet.