Donna Nook Air Weapons Range, just north of North Somercotes in Lincolnshire, is also a 6.2 mile long nature reserve famous for its large seal colony. The land is maintained by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. It is the only national nature reserve in the UK on MOD land, and was opened in 2002. The bombing range covers an area of 885 hectares on land and 3200 hectares at sea.
The purpose of the works was to replace missing and damaged range safety signage including posts and sea beacons marking the extent of the bombing range after a tidal surge had occurred earlier in the year.
The project was met with many challenges, the main being that due to NATO operational requirements the range had to stay open for the duration of the works. This meant that a range safety warden always had to be present to supervise the works and to stay in contact with range control. Throughout the duration of the works personnel and plant had to be moved to safety areas to allow aircraft and helicopters to carry out bombing / strafing runs. Range safety wardens were also on hand to evaluate and remove any live or dummy ordnance found during the works.
Another challenge were the tides and many deep areas of water and sand found on the beach. Tide timetables had to be studied to create a timetable of works due to the danger of being cut off by the incoming tide. The range wardens also used their extensive knowledge of the beach to plan the safest routes of entry and egress to the works areas.
Donna Nook is designated as National Nature Reserve and is also a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its sand dunes, salt marshes, mudflats and grey seal populations. This meant Hugh Pearl had to be very ecologically sensitive to the surroundings under guidance of an ecologist from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). Use of low ground pressure machinery, avoidance of certain areas, advanced spill kits and other controls meant the damage caused to area during construction was kept to a minimum.
The contract was completed on time, on budget and to the high standards expected by Landmarc Support Services and The Defence Infrastructure Organisation.