Thursday, 7 April 2016

Species rule change considered

By Claire Marshall
BBC Environment Correspondent

5 April 2016 

The great crested newt is a species classified as endangered under European law.

A government consultation on whether to change the rules governing how contractors deal with protected species when developing sites ends this week.

The focus is on the great crested newt, a species classified as endangered under European law.

Natural England, a government body in charge of protecting wildlife, is in the process of putting forward new proposals.

These would make the current licensing system "more flexible and strategic".

It would mean that councils and developers no longer have to move individual great crested newts as long as they protect the biggest colonies and most important habitats.

The consultation will end on 7 April.

If there are ponds on a building site it is illegal to send the bulldozers in until experts have confirmed that there are no great crested newts.

This can be expensive and lead to lengthy delays for major building projects. Great crested newts are protected under the European Habitats Directive so a formal survey by licensed ecologists needs to be carried out.

This can only be done between mid-March and mid-June when great crested newts are in the water breeding.
Winter hibernation

Torches are shone in to the ponds at night to try to spot them and water plants have to be examined by hand for eggs.

If even a small number are found, then Natural England (NE) the government body that looks after wildlife in England must grant a licence to move the animals.

They can only be fenced, trapped and relocated in spring and summer as they hibernate during winter.

This can cost from £5,000 to £10,000 for even a small project. The fencing alone costs £5-£6 per meter and there is labour on top. This costs business tens of millions of pounds a year.

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