Over the last 12 months TSL has installed tens of thousands of metres of reptile fencing in England, Wales and Scotland.
As many developers and main contractors are aware, the adder, common lizard, grass snake and slow worm are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA). The sand lizard and smooth snake are protected under the WCA and Schedule 2 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, making them European Protect Species.
As a European protected species it is an offence to kill, injure, capture or disturb them; damage or destroy their habitat. As such developers and construction teams must ensure that their schemes do not kill on-site reptile populations or destroy their habitat.
Developers must undertake initial habitat surveys, and where required, extended protected species surveys; these surveys consider the habitat potential of an area and ask whether there are suitable features on or adjacent to the application site for reptiles - such as rough grassland, heathland, basking sites, previously developed brownfield land.
Extended reptile surveys identify whether reptiles are actually present, and if present define their population size and species. As discussed some reptile species are European Protected species which dictates additional requirements from the developer over those reptiles that are protected by the UK law alone.
Developers use the survey information and, alongside their ecologist, put forward appropriate mitigation proposals to the Natural England and the LPA and in the case of Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes apply for a European Protect Species Licence (EPSL).
The developer will be required to replace lost habitat, enhance existing habitat and set out how reptiles will be sufficiently translocated from the construction areas to make way for the development. This mitigation strategy must be approved by Natural England and the LPA, and may need to be undertaken under the EPSL – all of which Three Shires can assist with.
This translocation process is where reptile fencing comes in. Reptile fencing (or Snake fencing as it is sometimes called) is used to seal the perimeter of a construction area to prevent reptiles from entering the construction footprint during the works. Once installed the area inside the reptile fence then needs to have the reptiles within it moved to an alternative habitat outside of the fence line. This is done by laying refuge tiles along the inside of the fence and across the translocation area to trap the reptiles and relocate them. This is done over a period known as the trapping or translocation period. For reptiles this period varies depending on the species and the population size, ranging from minimum of 60 suitable days in some cases to a minimum of 120 suitable days in others; trapping days only count if weather conditions are suitable, meaning if weather conditions (usually for prolonged periods) are too dry, too wet, to hot or too cold, these days will not be classed as ‘suitable’ for translocation.
With the above in mind, developers and main contractors require reptile fencing to be installed immediately once the EPSL has been received or approval is granted from Natural England. With legislation stipulating very long reptile translocation periods, sometimes over 4 months in duration, every suitable trapping day counts. Three Shires is able to install reptile fencing within a very short time frame, in full compliance and in accordance with the supervising ecological clerk of works.
Three Shires is able to recommend specifications, supply and install reptile fencing at market leading rates and installation outputs, install all reptile trapping measures, react at short notice from instruction and ensure all reptile fencing is compliant. Our experience of hundreds of reptile fencing schemes means that all of this is delivered with little or no ecological supervision, saving clients unnecessary costs and giving ecological consultants the confidence that all works are being delivered in line with best practice.