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Newt In My Back Yard

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A North Wales house builder has spent £140,000 on creating a special habitat for great crested newts on the site of a 26-home development. When environmental specialists arrived to move the newts to their new home, they could find only two. The same builder has already spent £300,000 at another development where a much larger colony of newts was discovered close to the site of 320 homes and a school.

‘ Two newts given £140,000 new home’

The great crested, the largest of the three British newt species, is a European Protected Species , listed under the EU Habitats and Species Directive 1992. It is protected under UK law by the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to deliberately kill, capture or disturb a great crested newt or damage its environment, carrying a penalty of six months in prison.

Conservationists estimate the UK has about 18,000 colonies comprising almost half a million individuals. Newts like to establish themselves in precisely the kind of spot that builders are being encouraged to build on: brownfield sites. If newts are discovered, planning applications must be withdrawn to allow a full environmental survey to be carried out. A special licence must be obtained from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. If it is granted, an alternative home has to be found and the newts trapped and relocated by wildlife experts, work which is permitted only during the newts’ spring and summer migration between land and water. The process can last up to two years from start to finish.

With Britain in need of millions of new homes, and builders’ costs for newt relocation and other environmental work certain to be passed on to the customer, it’s no wonder there’s a dire shortage of affordable housing.


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