The Ecology Consultancy carried out an initial habitat survey and protected species assessment on this site and identified the presence of common lizards during further surveys for reptiles.
To enable the development of the new Haberdashers’ Aske Academy it was agreed to translocate the population of common lizards to a receptor site. A suitable site was identified within a nearby 34 hectare public open space and hibernacula were constructed to provide additional hibernation habitat. Three hectares of new reptile habitat will also compensate for the 2.5 hectares lost to the development works.
Mowing in the area ceased at the end of 2009 to allow the beginnings of a rich tussocky grassland with patches of scrub to take shape. The creation of hibernacula, log piles and artificial basking areas (by removing several 5m square areas of topsoil and replacing it with compacted sand and shingle) was carried out in 2011 to further enhance this area for reptiles.
Reptile exclusion fencing was installed around the areas of suitable habitat on the development site and hundreds of sheets of roofing felt and corrugated roofing material, were placed on the ground to attract the animals to bask on or under. Over 150 translocation visits were made in one season and 578 common lizards were translocated in total.
The client had a tight deadline for construction so Willmott Dixon ensured that the trapping area was subdivided into smaller areas with exclusion fencing. The habitat was manipulated to help the trapping through regular strimming of the grass to ground level, around islands of longer grasses in which the artificial refugia were concentrated.
This method, agreed with the contractors, meant that we could hand over small sections of site as soon as they were clear of lizards and allow the project to progress, thus reducing delays for the contractor. The trapping programme proved to be a success – once 7 clear visits had been achieved in each trapping area, only 6 lizards overall were found during the final destructive search of the site.