More than 30 grass snakes and 70 slow worms have been rescued by contractors BAM in the lead up to work commencing in Bridgwater on Robert Blake Science College and Elmwood School. BAM’s early responsibilities in preparing to build involve groundworks and ecology, establishing temporary accommodation, and creating conditions for access. Foundations are required and early works including piling. Construction then moves to the new structure – and visible signs of the new frame for local residents of Robert Blake are expected by early next year. The man in charge of early works has been Neil Bennett, who cycles to work from his home in Bridgwater. He said: ‘We found 34 grass snakes, the majority of them young snakes – there were only ten adults. The slow worms, which are reptiles that are often mistaken for snakes, are also a protected species and we found 71 of these, including sixteen on one day alone. We’ve moved them much further along the development to safety where they will be unharmed by the activities about to start on site. Sightings of both species have become less and less frequent which is an encouraging sign that they are taking to their new location.’ BAM’s project manager, Richard Dewey, who has worked on Bristol's City Academy and Bath University, and is also from Somerset, said: ‘Many people are not aware that our responsibilities as contractors involve spending a good deal of time on preparatory works, and most often involve matters relating to a site’s archaeology or ecology. We need to look after all our neighbours, animal or human. We've used expert help (BAM is assisted by specialists from the Landmark Practice from Bristol) and we will be conducting more works and checks on wildlife throughout the project.' The slow worm has been decreasing in numbers, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, sell or advertise to sell them. Grass snakes are also protected under the Act and are non-venomous. BAM is commencing works on both Robert Blake Science College and Elmwood School and on Chilton Trinity Technical College, where the project manager will be Andy Sydall, who previously managed Filton High School in Bristol.
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