01 Apr, 2020

Project Outline

The Old Saltleians Rugby Club grounds were compulsory purchased by HS2. Following a detailed selection process, reviewing potential relocation sites, completed by the club, RammSanderson were asked to advise on and carryout any necessary ecological surveys of their preferred site. The site was located off Coleshill Road, Water Orton at the southern end of Gypsy Lane and comprised of former arable land, now left to fallow and a pond.

RammSanderson Approach

RammSanderson liaised with the club and their land agents Bruton Knowles in the first instance. As the project developed, we became a regular member at design team meetings and subsequent discussed the proposals with local planning authority and archaeologists. After carrying out the initial Extended Phase 1 Survey and a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment on the ponds within 500m of the site, it was recommended that a suite of newt surveys was necessary. Surveyors carried out six nights of bottle trapping, torch light survey, egg search and refuge search of these ponds and were able to confirm the presence of a medium sized GCN population. Reptile surveys were also carried out due to the suitability of the habitat but none were found during surveys.

A selection of mature trees onsite also provided potential for roosting bats and therefore, further bat surveys were also recommended and completed. These surveys resulted in the confirmation of several transient pipistrelle bat roosts using the trees on site.


RammSanderson used the Natural England discretionary advice service before submitting an application for a Natural England GCN licence, upon receipt of full planning approval. Once granted, works on the receptor site began. Vegetation clearance outside of breeding bird season was carried out to enable access inside the receptor area and make it more suitable for GCN. Works also focused on an area of dense vegetation, to allow the successful installation of GCN exclusion fence. Three new ponds and a variety of hibernacula habitat were created, along with enhancements to the grassland habitats and planting of new trees and hedgerows. The whole site was split into 12 compartments using, Temporary Amphibian Fencing (TAF), with approximately 500 pitfall traps located along the TAF.

Once the receptor site was in a suitable condition and the pitfall traps were in place, RammSanderson surveyors completed a 60 day translocation (which was extended to 80 days as a result of continued capture of GCN); moving 88 GCN, 71 smooth newts, 171 frogs and 41 toads to the receptor site. Only once we had 5 days clear of not capturing GCN were they allowed to close the pitfall traps. Alongside the pitfall traps, the surveyors used bottle traps for 10 nights within a pond ultimately being lost to facilitate the development. To offset the loss of this known breeding pond, RammSanderson had previously designed and constructed three new ponds as compensation, within the designated receptor area. The approach to licencing and specifically the receptor area was noval given the semi-permanent enclosure of the GCN population for a prolonged period. This approach was granted by Natural England after detailed discussion, specific approaches to design/habitat creation and integration with the neighbouring HS2 licence works.

We are in regular contact with HS2 for their interactions with the site and will shortly be beginning a monitoring programme for five years to monitor the success and longevity of the GCN population within the receptor site.

The mature trees shown to contain bat roosts within the receptor area were retained and protected from the construction works. A single roost within the centre of the site was lost to facilitate construction. These works were completed following approval of a Natural England bat licence application with artificial roosting habitat installed within the site as compensation and enhancement.