Posted by: lensweb | April 2, 2015

Newt Delays Train

When Derbyshire County Council applied for funding early in 2013 it was hoped the new Ilkeston Railway Station would open in December 2014. The discovery of protected Great Crested Newts in the immediate area contributed to increased costs and delays.  A freedom of information request, reported in the Ilkeston Advertiser 24 February 2015, revealed that 171 Great Crested Newts, and 197 smooth newts had been found on site and work continues to capture and relocate the newts.

Great crested newts are the largest of the UK’s three native species growing up to 17cm. They are dark brown or black in colour with a distinct ‘warty’ skin. The underside is bright orange with irregular black blotches, the tail has a white flash.

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Great Crested Newt at Stanton 6 September 2008

Photo credit Marion Bryce

Due to enormous declines in range and abundance in the last century, Great crested newts are a European protected species. All life stages, adults, tadpoles and eggs, their breeding sites and resting places are protected by law. It is an offence to: kill, injure, capture or disturb them; damage or destroy their habitat; or to possess, sell or trade.

Although widespread in lowland Britain their distribution is patchy. They are abundant in some small areas, but nationally the species is threatened. The decline is due to loss of habitat. They need both aquatic and terrestrial habitat, areas that ideally contain ponds with neutral pH, rough grassland, scrub and woodland, They live around 10 years, spending most of their lives hunting on land. When breeding, the newts and their young, called efts, swim around in open water so they prefer breeding in ponds that dry out occasionally, with no fish.

Building and development work can harm great crested newts and their habitats. If you can’t avoid (even accidentally):

  • capturing, killing, disturbing or injuring them
  • damaging or destroying their breeding or resting places
  • obstructing access to their resting or sheltering places

You need a mitigation licence from Natural England. You’ll need expert help from a trained ecologist to show what you’ll do to reduce the impacts of the proposed work on great crested newts and to show that there is no satisfactory alternative. Typical mitigation measures for great crested newts include counting, capturing and translocating, exclusion fences and pond creation or restoration

Activities you can do that wouldn’t break that law include:

  • rescuing a great crested newt if it would die otherwise
  • doing work to a pond during the winter when no great crested newts are likely to be present

The site for the new Ilkeston Railway Station is only about 150m from the Awsworth link road, which links Rutland Street in Ilkeston to the A6096 Awsworth by-pass, where Great Crested Newts were discovered in March 2007. The county council had to apply to Natural England for a licence to remove the newts and then extensive work was carried out to trap them and re-house them elsewhere. The area was declared newt free in October 2007. It seems the statement was premature as Great Crested Newts, like toads, have a homing instinct and will return to their traditional breeding grounds if possible.

If you would like to get better acquainted with these warty dragons contact Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group 

Marion Bryce 2 April 2015


Responses

  1. Most interesting article thank you. I’d love to see one.


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