Helping the Leigh – Manchester Guided Busway protect great crested newts

Helping the Leigh – Manchester Guided Busway protect great crested newts.

The Leigh to Ellenbrook Guided Busway is also known as Leigh – Salford – Manchester Rapid Bus Transit. It carries 62,700 commuters per week along a 4.5 mile dedicated bus route. And its home to great crested newts!

Contract Ecology Ltd were commissioned by Transport for Greater Manchester to help their ecologists protect great crested newts along the route of the new busway prior to its construction.  The route followed parts of a disused railway line. Snaking a path through woodland and meadow, some planted, some self generated since the collieries ceased operating in the area.  Resulting in a rich mosaic of habitats which the scarce amphibians use for breeding, shelter and foraging.

Stars of the show

The newt residents of the award winning scheme have now been featured in a BBC nature documentary. Cities: Nature’s New Wild.  The documentary aired on BBC two in December 2018 but is available to view on iPlayer.

In the footage a female great crested newt is seen foraging and egg laying within a waterbody to the side of the guided busway. With amphibian fencing in the background being used to link up newt habitat either side of the carriageway.

Contract Ecology Ltd installed amphibian fencing along parts of the route, along with pitfall traps which the ecologists used to capture the newts, before relocating them to habitat set aside for the animals

Our certified operatives carefully cleared back dense vegetation along the route of the fence line. Using a high strim/low strim technique.  A technique used for displacement of many terrestrial animals. This encourages any sheltering amphibians to move away from the area with minimal disturbance.

And because our operatives hold Natural England class licences for great crested newts, we were able to help TfGM and their ecologists again later in the project. We did this by carefully searching grassland for great crested newts before the site was prepped for woodland creation, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust.

Its not just buses that benefit from the dedicated route.  A multi user path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders also runs along its length too.

The BBC footage can be viewed here (37 mins in) BBC Cities: Nature’s New Wild.  Great Crested Newts

At the time of writing (May 2019), great crested newts are in full breeding condition.  So the ponds and habitats of the guided busway will be a busy place for these special creatures over the next few weeks.

If you’re looking for an experienced ecological contractor to help safeguard wildlife on your construction project, please get in touch.  Contract Ecology Ltd are hugely proficient in helping clients meet their needs in ensuring biodiversity is not adversely affected during works.  To arrange a site visit please call 01772 731404.