A mammoth project involving 7,000 metres of wire and approximately 1,800 posts is nearing completion.
The new Wildlife Park at Watlington, due to open in early 2020 has been a major build for Dodd and Co, involving months of preparation, design, collaboration and planning. The land we have been working on is an old quarry, with a mix of stony soils, woodland, wetlands, rough grazing and open pasture, with all the challenges that a range of surfaces can bring.
The hot dry summer made installing the posts difficult, while a wet winter and spring offered its own challenges when it came to moving heavy machinery. But, as always, where there is a challenge there is a solution and, with this particular project, the clients are innovators and forward thinkers, which always works well in this sort of collaboration.
A variety of machinery was brought into play, with one of the real stars of the show being the Solo Trak post-knocker. This hydraulic post driver is an incredible piece of kit, saving huge amounts of time as it drives posts into the ground with almost frightening efficiency.
Deer will be the main residents in the new Wildlife Park, with plans to install deer of all breeds as both a visitor attraction but also as part of specialised scientific research into the lives and breeding patterns of deer and antelope.
There will also be a wetland, creating a perfect habitat for a vast array of bird species and wildfowl, and a number of conservation projects taking place.
All of this, combined with its future role as a visitor attraction, has led to some demanding requirements.
Security is the number one priority. Both for keeping the animals in but also keeping other animals and human beings out. High, electric fences, 10 single or double galvanised steel gates and a state-of-the-art electric fence will all play their role.
Safety is also a key factor. Again, this is for the humans and the animals. Fencing will make sure that the animals remain safe and in the areas they are supposed to be, while signage and appropriate barriers will ensure the visiting humans and the on-site staff all remain safe at all times.
Cattle grids, with specialist fittings adapted for deer hooves, are placed strategically around the 180 acre site so vehicles can move freely from area to area, while the deer are kept in their rightful areas.
The whole area is divided into a parking lot and visitor area; a run into the wildlife park itself; two large pens and a catch area, for handling.
The technical detail
The 7,000 metre perimeter fence comprises RL23/240/5 with an angled turn in and skirt turned out.
The perimeter fence has 12 strands of electric wire.
The compound, entrance and catch area comprises T17/200/15.
Posts are spaced every five metres.
3.3 metres 6-8” creosote treated strainers.
3.6 metres 5-6” cross members.
A number of innovative additions are still to be made, including a raised walk-way, a ha-ha and a number of hides and cabins. A fleet of electric vehicles will service the visitor experience. It is hoped the entire Wildlife Park will be populated and operational in Spring 2020. Check back here for progress.