Deal reached over newts near new Durham police HQ site

Darlington and Stockton Times: A deal has been reached to protect the Durham newts A deal has been reached to protect the Durham newts

WORK can begin on a new £14m police headquarters, after a deal was reached over the welfare of protected newts spotted nearby.

Durham Police’s long-awaited new HQ, at Aykley Heads, Durham City, was delayed by several months after great crested newts, one of the most heavily protected creatures in the UK, were found hundreds of yards off site.

Natural England, the guardian of the country’s natural environment, was initially unconvinced by police analysis of the colony and refused a great crested newt development licence.

However, today (Thursday, February 14) a spokesman said a licence had now been issued.

He said: “It’s good news for the police, who will get a new headquarters development, and it’s good news for the newts in the long-term too.”

The delay is believed to have cost the force about £250,000.

But, responding to Natural England’s decision, Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “I’m delighted because it means taxpayers’ money is being well spent.

“We’ll no longer be heating and lighting a huge building from the 1960s that’s no longer fit for purpose.

“We would always protect the environment. We believe the new headquarters will be sympathetic to this. We recognise it’s a very important part of the cityscape.”

Police say their current HQ, also in Aykley Heads, is costly to maintain, needs many repairs and is no longer fit for purpose; and its successor will be £2,000-a-day cheaper to run.

Planning permission was granted last June. However, no work was allowed after great crested newts were found off site, near the East Coast railway line.

It is believed the colony numbers between two and ten newts.

The police’s first bid for a great crested newt development licence, submitted in September, was declined after Natural England ruled it was not robust enough.

Officers filed a second application in mid-December, which was agreed today.

A special newt fence will be erected to stop the amphibians moving onto the building site. Temporary Amphibian Fencing consists of low-level plastic sheeting, buried into the ground and supported by posts. No figures on its cost have been released.

An alternative grassland habitat, including log pile “newt houses”, will be created for the newts and they will be moved there once they come out of hibernation in the spring.

Comments (6)

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6:38pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Voice-of-reality says...

One law for the rest of us.... and another for the constabulary.
One law for the rest of us.... and another for the constabulary. Voice-of-reality

7:07pm Thu 14 Feb 13

robbiejay says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
One law for the rest of us.... and another for the constabulary.
Can you please explain what you mean by this?
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: One law for the rest of us.... and another for the constabulary.[/p][/quote]Can you please explain what you mean by this? robbiejay

7:11pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Voice-of-reality says...

It is really a very simple point.
It is really a very simple point. Voice-of-reality

6:44am Fri 15 Feb 13

robbiejay says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
It is really a very simple point.
I can't understand it. If it is so simple then please explain it to me.
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: It is really a very simple point.[/p][/quote]I can't understand it. If it is so simple then please explain it to me. robbiejay

4:41pm Fri 15 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

put simply it means no private person would've been granted the development licence! hth
put simply it means no private person would've been granted the development licence! hth greenfinger

5:32pm Fri 15 Feb 13

hemmi1 says...

10 newts in custardy
10 newts in custardy hemmi1

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