East West Rail vegetation clearance

East West Rail is a major project to establish a strategic railway route connecting East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England.

The Western Section, which will be delivered by Network Rail, aims to connect Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. Part of this project involves reconstructing an 11 mile section of existing and “mothballed” track. Thomson Habitats are currently working with J Murphy and Sons, to assist with the vegetation clearance of this section.

We are clearing both sides of the track up to a width of 6m from the ballast edge, using excavators with mulching heads for scrub, and tree shears for larger diameter trees. The felled material is being chipped, and then removed from site to be processed and used as biomass for energy production.

We have provided three ecological clerks of works, and an ecological supervisor to ensure that the work is always done in an ecologically sensitive manner. Areas containing badger setts are being avoided, and where there may be GCN (great crested newt) potential the vegetation is being cleared to an agreed height above ground level. The clearance has been timed so that it is finished before the breeding bird season starts.

We will follow up the clearance works with herbicide treatment to keep the regrowth under control.

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