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ST NEOTS PLANNING FIRM ISSUES NEWT WARNING TO LOCAL LANDOWNERS

Barford + Co, the St Neots based firm of Chartered Surveyors and Planning Consultants, is issuing a strong warning to local landowners and developers about Great Crested Newts.

This species is in severe decline throughout the UK and as a result is protected, however Great Crested Newtsare not uncommon in East Anglia and local landowners need to be acutely aware of them as the consequences can be significant if they are not handled in accordance with correct procedures.

Martin Page, Director of Planning at Barford + Co, commented: “Whilst Great Crested Newts have been in decline, the reality is that they are not uncommon in East Anglia and the consequences of Newt presence can be dramatic.

“It’s illegal to injure or destroy a Great Crested Newt or its habitat and if correct procedures aren’t followed it’s quite possible that sites which would otherwise be granted planning permission could be deemed unable to be developed. Even where planning permission is granted, where Great Crested Newts are present, a Licence to disturb them or their habitat will still be required from Natural England before a site can be developed.”

Martin also warns of the need for key actions to be taken to coincide with certain times of the year. He said: “Great Crested Newts typically hibernate between October and March and the opportunity to survey them is usually limited to between April and June when they migrate to ponds for breeding. If this survey window is missed a development might be delayed for over a year until the next breeding season.

“We work closely with expert ecological consultants on the presence of Great Crested Newts, and indeed other protected species including owls and badgers, and we advise clients on cost effective solutions so that potential issues arising from the presence of protected species can be minimised.

“It’s crucial for any landowner or developer to seek expert advice to avoid significant costs arising from non-compliance.”

Commenting on other protected species, Martin said: “We’ve had to deal with owls and badgers on a number of sites recently and whilst these are not typically as problematical as dealing with Great Crested Newts, there are once again hibernation periods which can affect the timing of ecological surveys which in turn can impact on the development programme for the site concerned.”

Under national planning policy and European Directives, Councils in the UK are obligated to consider the potential harm to protected species and habitat when considering planning applications.  For this reason Councils will sometimes require an ecological assessment to be undertaken and a report submitted with the planning application.

 

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