And finally… Developers to build underpass to protect newts

Mark Bates, director of Ecology at Heritage Environment Ltd (left) and Callum Whiteford, development relations co-ordinator
Mark Bates, director of Ecology at Heritage Environment Ltd (left) and Callum Whiteford, development relations co-ordinator

An enterprising property developer has devised an innovative wildlife crossing which will allow newts to safely navigate a busy road during a large-scale property development.

Banks Property is set to build over 1,000 new homes in Glenboig, North Lanarkshire and has pledged to protect the Great Crested Newts that dwell in the area.

The developer has been granted a ‘Great Crested Newt Development Licence’ by Scottish National Heritage, meaning the newts will be relocated during construction and then re-introduced into a new, specially designed habitat.

The plan also includes building an underpass under a new proposed link road for the newts to use, and an expansion of a nearby local nature reserve.

Ecology experts carried out a year-long study of an area where a new road has been proposed as part the housing plans.

Heritage Environment Ltd found amphibians could be at risk from road traffic as they moved to nearby ponds to breed.

The great crested newt is a rare and protected amphibian with a very restricted distribution in Scotland. Gartcosh Local Nature Reserve, which is adjacent to the development area, supports one of Scotland’s largest populations and is therefore of particular importance for the species. It is owned and managed by North Lanarkshire Council.

Mark Bates, director of Ecology at Heritage Environment Ltd said: “These newts, like other amphibians, spend most of their life cycle out of water in a number of terrestrial habitats but breed in pools and ponds.

“As our study identified that a small proportion of the Nature Reserve’s newts would have to cross the proposed new road to enter these ponds one of our key recommendations is the creation of an underpass to prevent them being killed.”

Mark and his team were previously involved in the establishment of the Local Nature Reserve when they provided its design, before translocating the newts and other amphibians from the former Gartcosh Steel Works to the new ponds within the Reserve.

Their recent detailed study over 12 months involved the temporary safe capture of newts in order to track their movements and provide appropriate mitigation measures for the road.

Mark added: “We’ll be providing the Glenboig Consortium with a range of recommendations to ensure the proposed new road has negligible effects on the newt population”

“With regards to the wider proposed development, we will also be providing designs of newt movement corridors to be incorporated into the layout. The corridors will include a range of newly created wetland and terrestrial habitats.

“These measures will allow the newts access to the wider countryside and potentially establish new populations within Lanarkshire.”

Colin Anderson, director at Banks Property, said: “Throughout this process we have listened to extensive feedback and shaped plans that are the best possible fit for the setting and sympathetic to the local environment

“So we are extremely pleased the ecology experts have come up with a range of practical solutions to safeguard such an important pocket of rare wildlife, including underpasses and newt corridors.

“What is particularly pleasing is the possibility that the changes proposed could actually encourage the Great Crested Newts to thrive in other parts of North Lanarkshire.”

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