M5 Newt Fencing
Contract Name: M5 SMART Motorway Upgrade
Main Contractor: Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV JV)
Duration: 18 Months
Contract Value: £1.2 million
Scope-Vegetation clearance and Newt Fencing installation to satisfy habitat requirements.
As part of Highways England’s strategy to improve traffic flow and improve the UK’s Strategic Highway Network, a section of the M5 between junction 4a to 6 was upgraded to become a SMART motorway encompassing new technology and deploy a running hard shoulder. Balfour Beatty Vinci JV was appointed by Highways England to construct the scheme and work commenced in December 2015.
Prior to any works taking place, Ecologists surveyed all of the sites to determine the extent of habitats and species that occupied the highway verge. All vegetation was removed to a height of 500 mm off the ground to enable the Ecology teams to complete a habitat survey and determine the mitigation for the species and habitats. The timing of this work was critical to avoid the beginning of hibernation which would delay work.
Greater Crested Newts were identified on the site by the Ecology Team. To avoid disturbance to the newts and
provide protection from the live carriageway and vegetation clearance works, newt fencing was installed along a twenty-two kilometre section of the motorway with Amphibian ladders and newt traps. The newt fencing was installed below ground level to avoid any newts tunnelling under the fence. Once the Ecology team were satisfied that the designated area was clear of newts, the vegetation was reduced to ground level and all lying vegetation was removed to avoid areas of refuge and shelter ensuring the site area was kept clear.
Once satisfied that the Ecological Mitigation works had been successful and the construction details had been finalised ground and earthworks were able to commence in preparation of the construction of new gantries, communications, signage, fencing, barriers and drainage for the new SMART motorway.