Collingridge Ecological Consultants
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study: Protection plan for newts
Client: Village Developments plc
Brief: To prepare plan to ensure that a known great crested newt colony would not be harmed by a farmyard conversion. To check buildings for other protected species.
Great crested newts Triturus cristatus are protected under EU and British law from direct harm and disturbance to their shelters. Capturing these newts or excluding them from their shelters required a licence from English Nature (EN) (Note: licensing for development purposes has now transferred to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions - DETR). Planning authorities must take account of protected species when considering plannng applications.
A group of farm buildings in Surrey had planning permission for conversion from existing light industrial uses to residential use. A condition on the planning permission required mitigation measures to prevent harm to the newts, which breed in a pond on the adjacent common.
We surveyed the site, and found that the part of it containing the buildings was not suitable for newts, although some of the surrounding land was. We recommended putting up plastic fencing to prevent newts moving in to the building area, and using similar fencing and pitfall traps to progressively remove newts from the remainder of the site over the next two breeding seasons.
Our report formed the basis for a successful licence application to EN (later renewed by DETR and DEFRA), and for an approval from the planning authority allowing work to proceed.
We also surveyed the site for other protected species, such as birds and bats. We found one swallow Hirundo rustica nest, and no evidence of bats. We recommended that work near the swallow nest be delayed until the birds had migrated, and that further checks should be carried out on some buildings for bats during the bat hibernation season.
The renovation work was completed by the end of 2002, and the newt fencing was removed to allow the newts to colonise the development's new gardens.
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