October 1, 2015
Highbridge firm's expansion rejected after discovery of rare newts

A Highbridge company's proposed extension has been turned down by council planners this week due to concerns about Great Crested Newts living on the site.

SmithBrewer Limited is based in Bolton Close on the Isleport Business Park and has applied for Full Planning Permission to demolish an existing industrial unit to create a two-storey extension with an additional 276 square metres of floor area.

But Somerset County Council's ecology team has raised concerns about Great Crested Newts - which are a protected species- living on the site.

"Potentially there is a risk to Great Crested Newts and their resting places from the proposed development," says the council's ecologist Larry Burrows.

"The southern part of the grassed / vegetated area lies within 50 metres of a pond recorded as supporting the species. According to Natural England guidelines this part of the site would be a medium to high risk impact."

While Burnham and Highbridge Town Council has given its backing to the planning application, saying that it would "help employment prospects in the town", Sedgemoor District Council has this week turned down the application due to the ecology concerns.

Claire Pearce, group manager, at Sedgemoor, said: "The proposed extension fails to address the site's ecology and therefore the proposal is contrary to policy D14 of the Sedgemoor Core Strategy. The proposal is also contrary to Section 99 of the Government circular 2005/06 on biodiversity and geological conservation and Natural England advice which requires that all developments likely to affect European Protected Species should have surveys carried out to inform the planning decision."


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