Innovative Design Delivers Additional Environmental Benefits

An innovative new design is helping a Fusion subcontractor deliver additional environmental benefits on the HS2 project.

Ecosulis is translocating seven hectares of quality grassland at Doddershall Meadows, in Buckinghamshire (with the AWE2b team). Much of it has been categorised as Grade 1 or 2 – being the most botanically diverse – and so is best able to help target species grow.

Ecosulis began the package of works in November 2018 with a desktop study and a National Vegetation Classification botanical assessment, which allowed it to identify the best areas to move the grassland habitat from and to.

In its search for new, cost-effective ways to achieve better outcomes, in collaboration with Fusion and others in the supply chain, Ecosulis has designed a bespoke bucket which preserves a greater amount of the turf when lifted. When laying it on the receptor site, the technology allows the plant drivers to locate the edges of the already re-installed turf more easily – preventing waste and ensuring a more seamless finish.

Ecosulis Director Simon Butler explained: “Given the volume of grass to be translocated on this project, we really honed in on the making the process of slicing, lifting and laying the turves as efficient as possible, even if to make small gains of a minute or two on each turve, which would result in bigger gains over the entire project.

“We started by modifying our existing mole plough; by removing the landside, the plough only sliced the turf vertically but did not disturb the soil underneath. This enabled us to cut the turf with clean and solid edges, giving us uniform, square turves that were less likely to break upon lifting, and are easier to lay at the receptor site without major gaps. More importantly, the turves were less likely to dry out so the grassland established better and quicker. We also modified flatbed trailers by running a steel beam down the centre line of the trailer to act as a barrier, to prevent the turves already on the trailer being displaced.”

Paul Grainger, Fusion’s Lead Supervisor in Sector C2b Calvert, commented: “Being able to support Ecosulis’ innovations has helped to improve grasslands translocation efficiency. This shows what the project can achieve with an integrated team, common goals and targets, and a shared vision of success.”

Ecosulis’ work is to continue in this package post-translocation: it has also been commissioned to undertake the initial maintenance onsite: providing ongoing management of the receptor sites and surrounding low-grade grassland, maintaining soil moisture this summer, undertaking targeted seed collection and planting, also improving target grassland communities.

PIC CAPTIONS: Clockwise from the top left: Modified bucket at donor sites one and two; the bucket at the receptor site and the adapted trailer