Nicholas Pearson Associates
Slow-wormM27 VergeAdderCommon LizardJCB on M27 VergeRefugeM27 VergeSlow-worm

Projects /
M27 Reptile Translocation

Client: WSP/Highways Agency

In 2005 the Secretary of State announced that the M27 road widening scheme was to be added to the Highways Agency's strategic plan for improving road networks. A 4km length of motorway between Junctions 3 and 4 of the M27 was identified for modification with widening of the road from an existing dual three lane motorway to a dual four lane motorway. This section of the M27 carries approximately 121,000 vehicles per day and experiences congestion on a regular basis. The Secretary of State's decision letter authorising the scheme to proceed to construction was issued on 3 May 2007. The approved budget for the scheme was £52m.

We were engaged to carry out ecological surveys of habitat and protected species in advance of construction. Common species of reptile were found on the road verges which would be lost as part of the widening scheme: these included Slow Worm, Grass Snake, Adder and Common Lizard. As it is a legal requirement to protect reptiles from injury or harm a need to remove and exclude reptiles from habitat to be lost was identified.

A detailed translocation strategy was produced and we undertook a large scale reptile translocation in 2007. This involved the following:

• Identification and enhancement of habitats to act as receptor sites
• Deployment of reptile exclusion fencing to prevent reptiles from moving into/returning to areas to be lost
• Deployment of artificial refuges to facilitate the trapping of reptiles
• Daily visits between May and September to check refuges and move captured reptiles to safety
• Habitat management during the translocation to help increase capture rates
• A destructive search in targeted areas once the translocation was complete.

Over 400 animals were captured and successfully moved to safety. The scheme was opened to traffic two months early on Friday 30 January 2009.