We're protecting the natural environment

As work on the new East West Rail line progresses it is important that we find ways to protect species development so biodiversity is left in a better state than we found it. This is part of our commitment to care for the environment.

Here are some examples of the work we’ve already done to protect the natural environment along the East West Rail route between Oxford and Milton Keynes. The East West Rail Alliance is delivering this phase and main construction work started in Spring 2020.


New badger setts

To compensate for any impact of works on the badger population along the line of route, 18 artificial badger setts have been placed in nearby locations for local badgers to use. The setts are mostly located in areas known as Ecological Compensation Sites, established to ensure we offset the project’s environmental impact and in fact actually create a 10% biodiversity net gain. The setts have been established over the last two years, well in advance of any of the existing setts being discontinued.  Many of the setts were used for breeding this year.


New bat house at Swanbourne

The old Swanbourne Station has been closed since the Varsity Line was discontinued in the 1960s. Since that time, the station building had become a roost for seven species of bats. To offset the impact of dismantling the building, a bespoke ‘bat house’ was placed in a nearby location for the bats to use. The bat house contains bat boxes and other features which make it a perfect roost.


Planting 160,000 new trees

More than 100 hectares of new habitats have been created in our Ecological Compensation Sites which includes planting approximately 136,000 trees so far. We have also replanted grasslands and plants such as orchids and have also cut blackthorn scrub to allow the eggs of hairstreak butterflies to hatch.

You can read our Environment Principles document here


This article featured in the Winter edition of our quarterly newsletter, Keeping you Connected. You can read the full newsletter here