of rare newts hikes up cost of 550-home Highbridge project
discovery of a protected species of newt on land where 550 new
homes are planned in Highbridge has led to the developer having
to spend thousands of pounds on additional environmental measures.
Land Management, which has requested outline planning permission
for the new homes at the Brue Farm site on the south side of Highbridge,
has confirmed that great crested newts have been discovered within
the proposed development site.
Extensive environmental surveys have been carried out over two
years to assess how many of the protected creatures are living
"During these surveys great crested newts were found in
seven water bodies and four of these occur within the proposed
development area. The peak count of great crested newts identified
across the water bodies within and adjacent to the proposed development
area was 24 on 27th April 2011," according to a report on
behalf of Hallam Land Management that has been made public this
number of animals represents a medium population of great crested
newts and due to the lack of any further records of the creatures
in the area, it has been determined that this population is of
county level significance."
The report concludes: "To facilitate the development of
the site, a mitigation strategy will be developed which will protect
and safeguard the population of newts."
"This will involve the creation, enhancement and retention
of habitats used by great crested newts and, where habitats will
be lost, mitigation will ensure that no individuals are harmed,
injured or killed."
To compensate for the loss of aquatic habitats, eight ponds will
be created on land to the north and south of the proposed development
area which will be designed to provide suitable breeding conditions
for the newts.
As the creatures are a protected species, a special licence from
Natural England will also be required to clear them in advance
of any building work.
A range of additional habitats will also be provided throughout
the reserve area on the site, comprising grassland, hedgerow,
scrub and woodland.
plans to build up to 550 new homes were formally logged by Sedgemoor
District Council this week.
Land Management's planning application covers the building
of new homes, a primary school, a day nursery, a park and a sports
Sedgemoor District Council last year identified the land as its
preferred location for housing growth in the Burnham area.
The proposals received a lukewarm backing from the Town Council,
as we reported here,
and we first reported earlier
this year that hundreds of new homes are earmarked for the
64 acre site.
The public will be able to submit feedback to Sedgemoor District
Council until 14th October 2011 during the initial consultation.
Pictured: Top, Great Crested Newts (pic Piet Spaans) have
been found at the Highbridge site of the proposed 550 new homes