TEP has been working with developer Quorum and Cheshire East Council to implement a great crested newt licence scheme for a development in Crewe, with part of the habitat compensation being delivered at a nature reserve in Macclesfield, about twenty miles away.
Normally developers with great crested newts on their site have to provide a compensatory nature reserve on, or very close to, the development site. However, Quorum’s proposed 110,000 sq.ft. warehouse in Crewe was hemmed in by other industrial land and a railway line so there was insufficient land to create a large newt reserve.
Quorum was able to keep the existing GCN pond on site along with a robust green corridor alongside the railway, but Natural England advised that more mitigation was needed before a licence could be granted to trap and translocate newts from the development footprint. An innovative multi-party solution was devised under Natural England’s new flexible licencing policies introduced in 2017.
Cheshire East Council was able to offer some land at the former Jackson’s Brickworks in Macclesfield, now a Local Nature Reserve hosting a small GCN population. The nature reserve required investment in the pond infrastructure to sustain and enhance its GCN population for the long-term. Quorum funded the Council to create two new ponds and implement long-term habitat management. This enabled Natural England to grant a licence and TEP were able to humanely trap GCN off the footprint of the Quorum warehouse more quickly than would normally be required, unlocking the site for a start on development before winter 2017/18.
Richard Doran, Cheshire East Council’s Countryside Manager commented, “We think this is a win-win situation. The Council is keen to promote development in the Borough and the scheme unlocked funding for us to enhance an important Local Nature Reserve and implement an environmental scheme which we would not otherwise be able to do“.
The work was carried out by a local contractor which also helps to keep money in the local economy.
Andrew Slater of Quorum says, “We were grateful to be able to commence site clearance before winter 2017/18. As developers, we are acutely aware that there are critical moments during the process of gaining a GCN licence. We were grateful for the assistance of Cheshire East Council and pleased that Natural England used their new more flexible policy and allowed a scheme of long-distance habitat compensation to weigh positively in the balance“.