An environmental enhancement project has seen success in the Ministry of Defence’s annual sanctuary award.

The awards, which have been running for over 30 years, showcase military and civilian efforts across defence, both in the United Kingdom and abroad, to protect the environment and to make defence more environmentally friendly.

Project Neptune, which in 2021 saw a team of conservationists creating two new Jubilee ponds, providing additional habitat for wildlife at Bicester Garrison, has won the environmental enhancement award for projects focused on wildlife and biodiversity, environmental research, or tackling pollution and contamination issues.

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Project Neptune is a collaboration between the Newt Conservation Partnership (NCP) and Bicester Garrison Conservation Group.

A partnership involving two conservation charities (Freshwater Habitats Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation), NCP creates and restores ponds and terrestrial habitat for great crested newts through NatureSpace’s district licensing scheme, which has funded habitat work for Project Neptune. In Bicester Garrison’s 80th anniversary year, Project Neptune is continuing to provide habitats for wildlife and supporting the wellbeing of garrison personnel.

The creation of a new wildlife site, which aims to benefit biodiversity and MOD staff, was carried out as a celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and is supporting nature beyond the barracks’ fence line.

Project Neptune began in 2020 with the aim to enhance some of the site’s aquatic and terrestrial habitats for freshwater wildlife, including great crested newts.

This included NCP creating two new clean water ponds and restoring two water bodies.

Richard Brooks, Environmental Support and Compliance lead for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which ran the awards, said: “DIO is proud to host the sanctuary awards and to publish sanctuary magazine to celebrate the positive work taking place throughout defence on climate change and sustainability.

“DIO takes this work incredibly seriously and we are pleased to continue to contribute to the wider defence and government sustainability targets.

“Well done to all of the winners and thank you for your contribution to making defence greener.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP said: “Defence is the third largest landowner in the UK, I am proud of the innovative work being delivered to create greener ways of working and embedding a culture of sustainability.

“I send my congratulations to all the winners and nominees of this year’s sanctuary awards.”

The coveted silver otter trophy is awarded annually to the best conservation group led project or individual conservation effort on the MOD estate, and the sustainable business award is awarded to the best commercial project which delivers sustainable solutions to enable the armed forces to live, work or train effectively.

This year they were won by Captain Nigel Williams RAMC and the Queen Elizabeth Class Logistics Centre Project at HMNB Portsmouth.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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