Waverley Line gathers pace

CGO Ecology has been instructed by Scottish environmental consultancy IKM Consulting Ltd (Grangemouth, Stirlingshire) to perform a reptile survey of the Waverley Line (Borders Rail) project in September 2012.

The Waverley Line originally opened in 1849, and ran from Edinburgh Waverley station to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders. Named after Sir Walter Scott's novel which immortalised his favourite landscape, the iconic route was closed after the Beeching Axe in 1966.

Parts of the line ran in some form or other until 1972, but the 50km (30-mile) route has since lain abandoned. The track was removed, some bridges were taken out, others became derelict, and the corridor generally became overgrown.

Yet the route still exists, and its cuttings and embankments continue to snake through a succession of arable, pasture, moor/muir, forest, urban and post-industrial landscapes. It generally follows the line of the A7 from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, passing through Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Heriot, Stow, and Galashiels.

The reopening of the Waverley Line  has been on the cards for many years, but progress accelerated after the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act 2006. Following various difficulties, construction is finally within sight, and the 50km route is due to reopen in 2014.

The site investigation and construction works are a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Network Rail. Line still exists from Edinburgh to Newcraighall; and the current project will see its continuation for the remaining 45km to Tweedbank near Galashiels.

Site investigation works are already under way, and CGO Ecology Ltd has been brought in by IKM Consulting Ltd to provide expert advice and a reptile survey of the route, to assess possible impacts on reptile populations.

We have already begun the survey, commencing with a walkover of the entire route from Newcraighall to Tweedbank, mapping the reptile potential of habitats along the way. Artificial refugia (felt mats) have been laid in batches of ten, at approximately 1km intervals (a total of 450 felts).

The seven survey visits will take place over the last two weeks of September 2012. Should reptiles be found, the survey results will feed into mitigation recommendations.