Ensuring vibrant wildlife on the East West Rail scheme

The East West Rail Alliance (EWRA) is overseeing the East West Rail project, a major railway scheme that will re-establish a disused rail link between Cambridge and Oxford to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England. ATV Contract Services has been heavily involved in the project since 2018. We have concentrated our considerable capabilities on delivering several habitat-related services on Phases 1 and 2 in southern England.

Protecting local species

Since 2018, our teams have been mobilised to implement multiple services across different disciplines, including

  • creating access points and compounds for EWRA
  • conducting archaeological surveys
  • constructing numerous wildlife mitigation areas
  • providing de-vegetation services for survey points and other parts of the line
  • delivering habitat creation and ecological services
  • fencing (permanent stock and steel fences)
  • ongoing maintenance of fencing
  • hydroseeding on parts of the upgraded line
  • returning areas to working agricultural land.
East West Rail Alliance Project
East West Rail Alliance Project

Mitigation areas

The full extent of ATV Contract Services’ delivery on-site is diverse and multifaceted. Specifically, we have overseen the planting of more than 250,000 trees on the site, including the installation of a bat hedge that spans over 7 km in length as part of the mitigation scheme. Throughout the project, we created several receptor ponds for reptiles and amphibians and planted marginal aquatic and wetland seeds. We built numerous hibernacula for reptiles, installing 5 km of reptile fencing, 1000 refugia (reptile traps) and 1223 pitfall traps (newt traps).

Between 2018 and 2020, we created over 50 hectares of wild flower meadows using our excellent range of seeding machinery attachments (deep furrow plough, power harrow, seed drill and Cambridge roll). We ensured the longevity and health of the mitigation areas through several maintenance strategies, including mowing and collecting of wild flower seeds, controlling pernicious weeds through the use of spot treatment and weed wiping and enacting a maintenance and replacement scheme for the trees and hedges.

ATV worked with Buckingham Group (from 2019 to 2020) to clear select parts of the track under Ecological Clerk of Works (ECOW) supervision to enable the addition of engineering survey points. Our qualified, skilled arborist operatives removed vegetation on sensitive areas requiring expert attention on the steep rail embankments. Following this, we undertook archaeological dig surveys for Buckingham Group ready for construction of the new structures on-site. We supplied qualified and competent plant operatives to facilitate the earthworks.

RSK collaboration

In 2021, we began our collaboration with RSK Habitat Management. Currently, ATV Contract Services has multiple fencing teams mobilised to install permanent stock, post and rail and security fencing using a range of specialist machinery, including a Protech Evo 1 post knocker and excavator with auger and post-driver attachments. In the autumn, we were involved with handing back the work areas to agricultural land. Moving into the winter, we geared up for the planting of thousands more trees during the season. We will be delivering invaluable work to the East West Rail project on Phases 1 and 2 until the end of 2023.

Notable milestones

  • 2 km – palisade fencing
  • 25 km – stock proof fencing
  • 21 km – hedges planted (126,000 trees)
  • 74,000 – scrub plants installed on railway embankments
  • 120,000 – woodland and scrub plots planted into mitigation areas
  • 500,000 m² – 50 hectares – of wild flower seed and marginal aquatic plugs installed