Project Description

Little Trees Cemetery in Pease Pottage, West Sussex


Crawley Borough Council are developing a new cemetery to ensure the continuity of their burial service can be maintained over the next 50 years. We were approached after it was confirmed that the new 5ha cemetery site supported populations of adder, grass snake, slow worm and common lizard, which would need to be moved before ground works could commence.

Babec proved to be an invaluable member of the team, working pro-actively to achieve a successful outcome and meet the Council’s objectives in terms of legal responsibilities, cost and programme. They were key in assisting to mitigate the ecological risk associated with the scheme.

Rhys Hutchings | Contracts Manager at Crawley Borough Council

What we did

With the first phase of construction scheduled to commence in Spring 2016, timing was a key consideration for our client. In order to meet this deadline, we mobilised ecological contractors quickly to prepare the site for trapping while simultaneously creating new habitat for displaced reptiles. This included clearing vegetation over large areas and installing over 1.5km of reptile exclusion fencing.
Slow worm

Reptiles were then captured by deploying artificial refugia within the site, which were checked twice daily by our field team. Over 80 reptiles were captured and moved off-site within the first 30-days of trapping. However, as low numbers of reptiles remained in small sections of the site, daily checks had to continue.

Given the tight deadline and seasonal constraints, we were keen to establish a reasonable end point to the trapping. By analysing our trapping data, we were able to demonstrate that we had already moved the bulk of the reptile population off-site. We were therefore able to negotiate a move to an alternative method for capturing the remaining reptiles. This comprised carefully removing all remaining reptile habitat under the supervision of an ecologist.


By negotiating a move to an alternative capture method, we saved our client money and ensured we could meet the deadline of clearing the site of reptiles in 2015. In fact, we met all key project deadlines while ensuring that no reptiles were harmed during the works.

Babec Ecological Consultants are continuing to work alongside Crawley Borough Council to supervise additional site clearance in 2016. The first phase of Little Trees Cemetery is on schedule to open in 2017.

Destructive search reptiles