Developer fined for destruction of newt habitat

PUBLISHED: 17:39 28 June 2007 | UPDATED: 21:43 29 May 2010

A great crested newt, like the ones that were living in a habitat in Stansted

A great crested newt, like the ones that were living in a habitat in Stansted

DAMAGING the habitat of a colony of great crested newts in Stansted Mountfitchet led a housing developer to receive a fine in court last week. Taylor Woodrow Developments Limited, a Solihull-based company, was called up to face magistrates in Harlow last

DAMAGING the habitat of a colony of great crested newts in Stansted Mountfitchet led a housing developer to receive a fine in court last week.

Taylor Woodrow Developments Limited, a Solihull-based company, was called up to face magistrates in Harlow last Wednesday, where they were fined £2000 and ordered to pay £87 costs.

The company was prosecuted under Section 39 of The Conservation Regulations, which prohibits "the damage or destruction of a breeding site or resting place of a European protected species".

It also violated statute in Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which has specific clauses for great crested newts.

Paul Cantwell, wildlife management adviser with conservation group Natural England, said he was very pleased with the outcome.

He said: "This case highlights why developers must take care when dealing with their contractors who are working where there are protected species.

"I believe this situation was completely avoidable. I would like to commend PC Andrew Long, the force wildlife crime officer for Essex Police, and the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing this case to court."

Taylor Woodrow Developments had been working on a development site in Forest Hall Road at the end of last year, aware that legally protected newts were using the area as a home.

Natural England had granted them a licence to allow an ecologist to capture the newts and move them to a temporary reserve nearby, while new ponds were being created for them.

It was intended that once the ponds were ready, they and the temporary reserve would be joined together.

However, in December 2006 the company instructed contractors to excavate the new ponds. Workers drove heavy machinery over the special fencing protecting the newt reserve and placed excavated soil on top of the temporary reserve.

PC Long said the case was a perfect example of a perpetrator of wildlife crime being brought to justice.

He said: "This case demonstrates that Essex Police, working with agencies such as Natural England, can have a positive impact on wildlife crime.

"Essex Police will, where possible, investigate matters of wildlife crime, and if there is sufficient evidence refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service."

Great crested newts can be found across much of Europe. They are the largest and rarest of Britain's three types of newt.

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