Telford & Wrekin Council launch new scheme to protect the borough's newts
Telford & Wrekin Council is planning to launch a pioneering scheme to protect a declining species of newt across the borough.
The council is hoping the new scheme will give more protection to great crested newts, which are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, without holding up building developments.
The council is one of the first in country to be granted a special district level newt licence by Natural England. Telford and Wrekin, as a borough, has around 1,000 ponds and so the council hopes it will be able to provide better sites for the borough’s newt population while helping development projects, subject to planning permission, to be approved more quickly and cheaply.
Under the scheme, conservation payments from developers are used to restore and improve newt habitats which will allow the numbers to grow.
The scheme has already gathered £20,000 to be invested at 12 sites in the borough to create or enhance existing ponds used by newts.
Work is now underway to create and restore several ponds across the borough to attract even more great crested newts. Funding from the licence scheme is already paying for conservation work at Furnace Pools, part of the new Dawley Hamlets Local Nature Reserve, and home to thousands of newts.
Councillor Carolyn Healy Cabinet Lead for Natural Environment and Climate Change said: "We are a very green borough and it’s great that we have the first such scheme to be fully administered by a council.
“Here nine in ten households are within 300m of green space and we’re protecting more green spaces than ever with 16 local nature reserves in the borough, many of which are home to great crested newts, as well as over 200 Green Guarantee spaces.
“With this licence we can create high quality habitats where we know newts can thrive, doing even more to protect the species.
“At the same time we can reduce the cost of regulation and speed up the licencing process which helps developers.
“It’s a small but important part of our mission to lead a green recovery for the borough from the effects of pandemic and to help developers build back better and greener.”
Jen Almond, Natural England’s District Level Licensing Programme Manager, said: “District level licensing is transforming an area of regulation from one that has been problematic for great crested newts and people into one that is a real conservation success story.
“Telford & Wrekin’s ambition and drive make this bespoke, locally-led scheme a win-win for both local developers and the future of this iconic species."