Natural England and Woking Borough Council have launched a pilot scheme to explore whether a new system can be implemented to save developers time and money whilst providing more comprehensive mitigation and compensation for great crested newts. The main changes will include:
Great Crested Newts
At a time that most ecological consultants are out undertaking great crested newt surveys and developers are squeezing in last minute commissions for 2016 the BBC News and Ecosulis are also considering what the future holds for this European Protected Species (EPS).
Great crested newts (Tritiurus cristatus) are well known within ecological consultancy as they are a protected species which often crop up within areas of proposed development. They are sensitive creatures which are vulnerable to water changes and therefore suffer due to natural forces including; ponds overgrowing, shallowing and eutrophication, as well as non-natural forces; industrial water pollution, destruction and drainage of ponds, introduced predatory fish and habitat fragmentation. But there may be another force to add into the mix…
A recent study has assessed the value of the Natura 2000 network, a European network of protected wildlife sites, to be €300bn a year. This is the equivalent of 2-3% of the European Union GDP. The estimated value of the site network is far higher than the current funding allocated to preserving the sites, and justifies continued or even increased funding of nature protection at the European scale.
The weather is becoming milder and amphibians are stirring out of hibernation and there have already been several sightings in ponds. This indicates the start of the great crested newt survey season (mid-March to mid-June)! In preparation, Ecosulis has reflected back on our newt survey results from 79 ponds in 2010 and considers how the relatively new Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) is being used and what benefits it brings to the consideration of newts and works affecting newt habitat.
Ecosulis are to offer their skills free of charge to ensure great crested newts and water voles are protected during the Wichelstowe Canal Festival.
Alongside other companies such as BAM Nuttall and Taylor Wimpey, who are providing fresh water and machinery, Ecosulis are keen to facilitate the festivities, by providing ecological support.
Details are yet to be finalised; however, what is certain is that amendments to the Conservation (Natural Habitats & c.) Regulations 1994 are due to be implemented from April 2007. This is a very complicated subject but the headlines of relevance to all those involved in development projects, are:
The European Protected Species (EPS) licensing system is to be changed because the UK was found lacking in the transposition of the Habitats Directive 1992 by a European Court Judgement in October 2005.