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Rare newt rehome impresses environmental professionals

A colony of the UK’s rarest newt are said to be thriving in their new home following a visit from a team of experienced eco-friendly experts.

A total of 15 staff from Natural England’s local office spent two hours at the Vangarde Shopping Park site as part of their annual team meeting to see the progress of the Great Crested Newt mitigation, which was completed under a wildlife mitigation licence from Natural England.

The site tour was led by AECOM ecologist Jo Atkinson, who has been retained as site Ecologist throughout the initial planning application, construction and operational phases of the development.

She said: “The team from Natural England were very impressed by the successful ecological mitigation and enhancement that has been delivered on site, particularly for Great Crested Newts.

“The new ponds are surveyed every year to monitor the newt population, and it has been confirmed that the newts are thriving in their new home.

The rare and highly protected creatures were first identified in the outline planning application of Vangarde Shopping Park and six new ponds were created in a field south of the Park and Ride car park to provide a replacement habitat.

As well as the new newt ponds, the drainage lagoons in the Vangarde Shopping Park site are also being managed for the benefit of newts, with rough grassland areas and hibernation sites created.  The new ponds and the lagoons in the Shopping Park are connected by four bespoke newt tunnels beneath Martello Way, and camera trap monitoring has confirmed that they are being used by Great Crested Newts, as well as other amphibians.