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Newt-protection fence allows construction to resume on Kier’s £14m Durham Police HQ

Work on Kier’s Durham’s £14m Constabulary site is to be re-started after a protective fence is erected to preserve a protected species of newt.

The decision was made following a “high-level” meeting between the force, an ecologist, Natural England and the contractor,

The fence will prevent great crested newts, which set back work by three months at a cost of £200,000 to the force, being harmed by entering the site.

As a European Protected Species, it is an offence to deliberately capture, kill or disturb great crested newts, or to damage or destroy breeding sites and resting places without a licence.

The Newts are to be “carefully captured” outside the fence and moved to a “suitable receptor site” after their hibernation ends in Spring.

An area of grassland is to managed south of the main site, provided an “enhanced” habitat suitable for the species in the long-term.

Refuge and hibernation opportunities will be provided for the newts, including purpose-built mounds of logs and rubble.

Adrian Vass, Natural England’s area manager, said: “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to issue a licence that will allow this important development to proceed in harmony with our wildlife, landscapes and laws.”

“As well as providing a modern base for the police the project will create a bigger, better habitat for great crested newts so this licence represents a significant step forward for both Durham constabulary and one of our most cherished native species.”

Durham Constabulary’s assistant chief officer, Gary Ridley, said: “This is excellent news for the people of County Durham and Darlington because the savings made will go towards maintaining police officer numbers and continued high performance by the force.”

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