Our Allerton Project research farm in Leicestershire is well known for investigating the effect of different farming methods on wildlife and the environment. But what you might not know is that it also has a population of great crested newts.
Our application to save local newts was rejected
We were recently approached* to see if we could rehome some great crested newts which needed to be removed from a building site. The development was just 20 miles from the Allerton Project, so we were delighted to offer our help. As great crested newts are a European Protected Species (EPS) we applied to Natural England for permission to move them. Unfortunately our application was turned down.
Natural England have piloted a new approach
Since then, Natural England have piloted an alternative approach that aims to ensure that even if building work creates habitat damage, there will be a net gain in newt numbers. This is achieved by finding an area near to a development which is improved to encourage newts and increase their numbers.
Natural England now want to hear your views
NE recently launched an open consultation to ask whether this new model is a good way to go forward. We feel that it probably is and we are providing a formal response, taking into account the responses we gathered from readers of this blog (our survey has now closed).
The proposed policies
All the policies proposed aim to provide greater long-term benefits to all EPS. They’re designed to be flexible, and they would only be applied on a case by case basis. All of them would benefit the great crested newt, but the fourth would also benefit bats. The policies may also be beneficial to other EPS, such as dormice and otters. Full lists of animal and plant EPS can be found at legislation.gov.uk.
Thank you to all those who gave us their thoughts, we will publish our formal response here in due course.
*The GWCT was approached by ADAS, an independent consultancy, on behalf Linden Homes.
This blog post has been revised - thank you to staff from Natural England; we are grateful for their input.