Warwickshire 2019 – 2021 Laing O’Rourke Murphy Joint Venture (LM JV) on behalf of HS2 Ltd.

FiveRivers carried out Ancient Woodland Translocation and habitat creation at five sites across Warwickshire as part of the HS2 phase 1 ecological mitigation program.

This multi-year project consisted of two separate contracts with LM JV and was delivered with a mixture of in-house staff and our fantastic supply chain.

Soil

30,000m2 soils translocated

Trees

90,000 trees planted

Wildlife

10 wildlife ponds created

Habitat

5 hibernacula built

Project requirements

Tasks

The main focus of the scheme was to clear and translocate over 3ha of woodland soils to suitable receptor sites.  This included significant ecological survey and mitigation, all carried out under licence by Natural England.  As part of the receptor sites we created additional habitat features including ponds, hibernaculas, reptile basking banks, grassland.  Translocated soils were planted with saplings, as well as other woodland creation areas, mostly on previous arable land.

 

Our approach

Key remarks

Ancient woodland is irreplaceable habitat and the whole team owned the responsibility of doing the best possible job at preserving the woodland soils, and as many features as possible. We worked closely with LM JV and HS2 to implement the HS2 Ancient Woodland Strategy, and where-ever possible add additional ecological benefits.

Each tree was manually checked for bats, at one point we had over twenty licenced bat ecologists on site! Several outlier badger setts we’re monitored and closed under licence.  Works were continually monitored for breeding birds and great crested newts by a team of ecologists, alongside our full time soil scientists monitoring the condition of translocated soils.

Soils were carefully moved in layers and placed at a prepared receptor site.  Where available we moved coppice stools, saplings and small trees as well.  Where possible felled material was re-used as on site as deadwood habitat, including standing deadwood monoliths.

 

Project outcomes

Effects

There were significant constraints on this project, notably the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, protester activity slowing works and the seasonality around licencing. We safely worked through and ultimately got all areas completed on time and without any delays to HS2s wider program.  By working with the client we also managed reduce the area of woodland directly impacted by the scheme.

All mitigation sites quickly vegetated and look fantastic.  On top of the hundreds of bat boxes put in, we installed veteran cuts into dozens of deadwood features, overall creating significant roosting bat habitat.

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Testimonial
FiveRivers were amongst the first contractors to deliver the early enabling ecology mitigations sites for LM/HS2. The success of these sites lead to FiveRivers securing further contracts to translocate Ancient Woodland Soil. They went above and beyond to keep these projects on track and set the high standard for the project. They did this throughout the COVID pandemic, significant public scrutiny and with the backdrop of protestor action on site. The works were technically complex and needed to be undertaken in strict compliance with the requirements of the Natural England Protected Species licences. These were unprecedented times with immense obstacles to overcome and FiveRivers not only delivered, but excelled with their hardworking, can do, collaborative work ethic. I hope to work with them again in the future.
Simon Russell, Project Director LMJV
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Martin Whitfield

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