Tales from the M25 – Part 1

Monday, July 19th, 2010

As you may know The Ecology Consultancy have been doing a lot of work on the M25 widening project in Essex and elsewhere, protecting lizards, snakes, slow worms and Great Crested Newts from the impact of this project. A case study is available on our main website. Something about the job, long hours in the sun or rain, constant traffic noise, relative isolation seems to bring out the fanciful in the people working on it. Here are a few of the stories I have been told by Ecology Consultancy staff and others.     

Kareem and the king slow worm


According to Kareem one of our seasonal staff last year each section of the M25 has a king slow worm who rules the roost over all the other slow worms in that area. This mighty worm is the toughest and most wily of all the slow worms. One day on the embankment he turned over a reptile mat and uncovered this king slow worm. Apparently it looked at him with a mixture of shock and affront that Kareem should dare to uncover it.  

Slow worm King slow worm?

Kareem stared back for a moment before tackling the mighty beast, all of a foot long and as thick as a rope. He managed to catch hold of it but the slow worm wasn’t going to give in easily. After a brief struggle the slow worm dismissed Kareem with a flick of the tail and made off into the undergrowth.   

Another ecologist claims to have captured the ‘king’ later in the week but their reports are unconfirmed. I like to think that thanks to our efforts he is still out there safe from the machines and untamed by the hand of man  

Tree surgeon Crusoe


On another section of the motorway I got chatting to a tree surgeon. These people spend long periods of time alone in the woods and develop some pretty strage ideas. He felt that working on the embankment was particularly lonely. I can understand this isolation feeling, event though thousands of people are travelling just next to you they are sealed in their vehicles and feel distant. There is also no entrance or exit to the workplace, you are usually fenced in with access from the hard shoulder only, a few workmates and the silent man who drives the traffic cushion lorry.     

Anyway my tree surgeon friend described the elation of seeing the traffic management workers arriving and beginning to remove the cones.     

M25 workers Waiting for their ship to come.


‘You feel like you have been trapped on a desert island and after months of waiting a ship has finally appeared on the horizon and is coming to rescue you’     

I am sure there will be plenty more stories to come as the project continues and I will do my best to keep you up to date with them all.     

Alex Woodcraft

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