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Newt causes big headache in village

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    Posted: 21 Apr 2005 at 12:51pm

Newt causes big headache in village
Construction under threat. Report By STEVE KNIGHT

Pond Life: Iwade parish council chairman Peter Wilks highlights the village's great crested newt problem

AN ENDANGERED species of newt could halt further construction work in Iwade if a survey reveals it is threatening their habitat.

When the great crested newt was first discovered in the village last year, a 177 million extension at Iwade Primary School was delayed for almost 12 months while Kent County Council worked out a plan to maintain the amphibians' environment.

A conservation area was set up to protect the creatures, which included a fence running around the school pond and two special breeding mounds.

Proposals for a new car park and burial ground at All Saints' Church could also be shelved to ensure the newts, protected by strict legislation, are not disturbed. Iwade Parish Council chairman Peter Wilks said the issue had taken everybody by surprise.

He said: "We have been quite looking forward to getting this land for the community, but now the question of great crested newts has popped up.

"We weren't really aware these creatures were here, but it really hit us when the school building had to be stopped. The builders were almost on the doorstep when everything came to a halt."

The parish council was told it could take over the land at the church as part of the 2000 Local Plan ? the same development blueprint that allowed hundreds of houses to be built in Iwade. But Mr Wilks said he and his members were unlikely to want to take responsibility for the area if it cannot be built on.

He said: "I'd never seen or heard of these great crested newts before, but apparently they travel between ponds and need long grass, which is why it must not be cut."

The parish council must wait until a wildlife survey carried out on behalf of developer Ward Homes has been completed.

Only then will members be able to see the true extent of the problem.

Ward's planning director Mick Drury said: "I can confirm we have an expert carrying out a survey and it is a precursor to finding out where these newts are in Iwade. "When it is complete, we will then be able to look at moving the newts to new sites, if possible."

He added that the survey, which began at the beginning of the month, could take between eight and 12 weeks.

The great crested newt is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation Regulations 1994.

The legislation means it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure or capture a newt or its eggs or disturb them in any other way, such as by destroying their home or obstructing access to it.


East Kent Gazzette (Reproduced with kind permission & assistance)



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