Rare newts could have a say on whether 60 new homes are built in Sutton
Developers are planning to capture and relocate a number of Great Crested Newts so that 60 houses can be built on land east of Sutton.
The amphibious creatures currently live in ponds in an area near Garden Close, which Endurance Estate Strategic Land Limited has ear-marked for the development in an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted to East Cambs District Council’s planning committee.
The newts, which can grow up to 15 centimetres in length and have a distinctive orange belly, are a protected species in the UK and in Europe, making it an offence to kill, injure, capture, disturb or sell them, or to damage or destroy their habitats.
But in an attempt to dodge any legal ramification, developers plan on holding 60 nights of trapping and will erect temporary amphibian fencing so that the newts can be caught and relocated safely.
The idea of keeping the newts at the site has not been ruled out, however, with developers saying it could be “feasible to maintain and enhance the integrity of the local Great Crested Newt population” by either keeping the ponds, creating a new nature reserve area or by designing a “permanent barrier to new dispersal” on the site.
If developers are unable to relocate the newts they may have to apply for a mitigation licence from Natural England. Applications for a licence must include a statement on what builders would do to reduce the impact on the newts and demonstrate that there is no satisfactory alternative.
A total of 31 newts were counted at the site in May last year.
The Great Crested Newt
• Great Crested Newts are the largest of Britain’s native newt species.
• Their skin is normally black or dark brown and has a rough, ‘warty’ appearance.
• Great Crested Newts can grow up to 15cm in length.
• They are usually found in large, weed-filled ponds and are active at night.
• They eat invertebrates and tadpoles but are hunted by foxes, badgers, rats, hedgehogs and birds.
The proposed development includes affordable housing, a play area, and an ecological enhancement area.