Okehampton – reopening of the Dartmoor Line

  • Project title

    Reopening of the DAC (The Old Dartmoor Line), Okehampton

  • Project value

    £1 million + (Ongoing)

  • Clients

    Network Rail

  • Dates of project

    Start: 01/10/2020

We were commissioned by Network Rail to provide ecological services for the reopening of the old Dartmoor Line from Okehampton to Exeter.

During 2020 and 2021 Ecus was commissioned by Network Rail to provide a range of preliminary ecological surveys, protected species surveys, Ecological Clerk of Works, and mitigation licensing for the reopening of the old Dartmoor Line from Okehampton to Exeter.

15 and a half miles in length, the line was reopened in November 2021 having last previously run in 1972. This is the first line to be reinstated under the Department for Transport’s ‘Restoring your Railway‘ initiative and links Okehampton and the surrounding Dartmoor area with Exeter and the Great Western Main Line.

As an ongoing project, Ecus continues to work closely with Network Rail as they maintain and extend the line, ensuring that this stretch of quintessential Devonshire countryside and the species within it are protected.

Ecological Surveys

Surveys began with Extended Phase 1 Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) habitat surveys to identify key habitats and potential for protected species. A variety of species-specific surveys were carried, including badger, bat, and hazel dormouse surveys (using over 900 nest tubes). We then acquired a number of mitigation licences for these species.

Clerk of Works

All site works were carried out under the watchful eye of an Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW). The site works ranged from the re-roofing of Okehampton station to lineside vegetation clearance and railway bridge maintenance. Using an ECoW ensured that site work could be carried out in the most ecologically friendly way possible without harming any wildlife on site.


A number of mitigation and compensation measures were implemented by Ecus.

  • 150 dormice boxes have been erected alongside the railway corridor to provide important nesting habitat.
  • 1km of new hedgerows are currently being planted.
  • New woodland is being created with good habitat connectivity to the railway to provide habitat for dormice and other woodland species. This new woodland will be monitored to ensure that it is in a suitable condition to provide a safe space for a range of species.
  • Bat boxes and bat friendly roof tiles have been used around Okehampton station to support local bat populations.