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Reptile translocation – Queensway North Business Park, Sussex

Applied Ecology Ltd was commissioned by Hastings & Bexhill Renaissance Ltd (formerly Sea Space) to design and implement a reptile translocation strategy in advance of constructing a business park development in Hastings.  Baseline survey and ecological impact assessment verified that the proposed development site supported large and widely distributed populations of common lizard Zootoca vivipara and slow-worm Anguis fragilis, and that, without mitigation, construction would inevitably result in the killing and injury of these reptiles.

Common lizards basking on an artificial refuge

Common lizards basking on an artificial refugia

 

Applied Ecology Ltd completed extensive consultation with the Hastings Borough Ecologist and Natural England, and all agreed that use of an off-site receptor capable of supporting large numbers of reptiles was the only feasible option given the nature and scale of the proposed development and a lack of suitable receptor habitat surrounding the site.

After extensive research, a suitable receptor site was identified and purchased by Applied Ecology Ltd within the High Weald AONB. The site was an extensive area of semi-improved grassland meadow that was formerly cut for hay on a regular basis before falling into management neglect for a number of years.  Reptile survey confirmed that it supported a small and isolated population of common lizard, and management was put in place to increase the extent of scrub edge habitat and create other reptile-friendly habitat features, as well as fencing to increase site security.

Reptile translocation - Applied Ecology Ltd reptile receptor site

Applied Ecology Ltd owned reptile receptor site

 

Applied Ecology Ltd ecologists captured and re-located a total of 1,426 reptiles (comprising 1,202 slow-worms and 224 common lizards) from the proposed development site over a period of five months during the 2008 reptile active period (May-September).

The receptor site is owned, managed and monitored by Applied Ecology Ltd, and annual reptile monitoring has confirmed that it supports exceptional breeding populations of common lizard and slow worm.  Grass snake Natrix natrix has also colonised the site in recent years in response to habitat management to increase the site’s value for reptiles.

Reptile translocation - Captured slow-worms ready to be released

Captured slow-worms ready to be released