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Group Project up for Sustainability Award

After winning the Sustain Magazine Award for Land in 2009 and being named as Finalists in 2010, The Herpetosure Group has another project in the final for the major sustainability award for 2011.

This year the project in question is titled the “Pocket Park Reserve, Eynesbury” – The description below should tell you why we made the final.

The Herpetosure Group was contacted by Taylor Wimpey to provide high speed ecological mitigation and sensitive site preparation works on one of their sites at Eynesbury, St Neots.

The major challenges included; carrying out works on the sensitive Pocket Park Nature Reserve, delivering huge requirements within a very short time frame, working in areas with a known protected reptile population, working in areas with public access, operating in public view and close to a riverside residential area.

The scheme needed to be executed with extreme sensitivity and involved a number of key steps.

Habitat Creation

In order to reduce and mitigate the impact of the proposed development and adhere to the conditions of planning, the group were asked to design and construct replacement hibernating habitats for the protected common lizard populations on-site. It is Herpetosure policy to always deliver projects in a sustainable way so we used industry contacts, suppliers and NISP to source sustainable materials to incorporate within the design.

The habitats under construction are called hibernacula; the key constituents of these habitats are timber, stone and earth. The Group sourced clean recycled bricks and stone from a nearby development and incorporated these into the hibernacula construction. In total 100 tonnes of stone was transported to site, the nearby location of the site reduced vehicle emissions and incorporated local haulage contractors to carryout the transport.

Over 40 m³ of timber was also needed in the creation of the hibernacula. Once again we used timber won off the back of our nesting bird site clearance operations – illustrating further our ability as a company to use an operational by-product to enhance ecology.

The overall result is a bund of stone and timber, covered with soil and finally capped with turf; the stone and timber core hold on to ground heat at various temperatures and allows lizards to move around within the hibernaculum to find optimal hibernating temperatures.

Materials and plant movements were complicated by public access and site sensitivity, but a total of 6 new habitats were created and the works were completed in less than two working days – these were blended into the surroundings so not to visually impact on local residents or deter visitors to the Nature Reserve.

Reptile Fencing

The next challenge was to install 1.2 kilometres of reptile fencing to trap the lizards and relocate them to the new habitat area.

Traditionally reptile fencing was made of unsustainable polythene sheet attached to timber stakes all of which is destined for landfill at the end of the project; on this scheme this would have equated to 2 tonnes of material going to landfill.

The Herpetosure approach was far more sustainable, Herpetosure reptile fencing has been available on the market for the last 5 years – it is reusable, recyclable and derived from re-cycled material. In total 1.2 kilometres of Herpetosure® fencing was installed in just 3 days including sensitive fence line clearance.

The fencing had already been installed and extracted on another site in Cambridge and will be removed in two years time at the end of the project. This method produced zero waste and the fencing will be reinstalled on other sites at the end of the scheme.

The Trapping Period

hundreds of refuge tiles were dispersed across the site to trap the reptiles. Trapping is heavily dependant on temperature and time of year; the site needed to be trapped for 30 days and if at any point in the this period the temperature fell below 8۫ C trapping would be stopped and Taylor Wimpey would have faced a six month delay without being able to progress.

Due to the fact that Herpetosure had managed to create the hibernacula and install the fencing in a quarter of the time originally allocated all reptiles could be relocated before the weather changed. Once again all refuge tiles had been recycled and will be reused.

Destructive Search

The final step in the process involved the destructive search of the entire 4ha area; this is involved the systematic stripping of vegetation and turf to sterilise the site and ensure no reptiles remain. This required synchronising two 13 tonne excavators hired in from a local plant operator (to reduce transport emissions). The excavators worked with ecologist supervision to ensure that any remaining reptiles were not harmed and could be relocated to the habitat areas. The entire area was sensitively stripped in just 4 days and the developer is now able to carryout works through the winter.

If we had not been able to deliver within this narrow time frame Taylor Wimpey would have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra costs and delays.