CHESHIRE East Council has lost a race against time to dig ten newt ponds as part of a multi-million pound roadway.
The £26.5 million Crewe Green Link Road South (CGLRS) is integral to CEC’s All Change for Crewe initiative, thought to be worth £250 million to the local economy.
But the Guardian revealed in November that the road’s proposed 1.1km roadway between the A5020 Weston Road roundabout and the A500 Hough-Shavington Bypass ran straight through two populations of endangered Great Crested Newts (GCN).
The council could ordinarily have moved the endangered species to terrain either side of the road, but CEC have already earmarked the neighbouring land for the Basford East employment area development.
Council documents show the newts need to be moved by October 2013 as part of the link road’s progression timetable.
However, strict Wildlife and Countryside Act laws, dictate that transfer ponds need time to bed-in, meaning the habitats should have been finished before the end of January this year.
This week, Cheshire East Council admitted the ponds had not been finished to a timescale okayed in November.
They insist the newts’ relocation won’t delay the progression of the link road, but acknowledged a possible delay to the transfer of newts.
The council said they were looking at ‘alternative proposals and, or phasing which would mitigate any scheme delay.’ The council also said it believed three months had been an adequate timescale in which to dig the ten ponds, which will be up to 50 metres long and surrounded by newly planted shrubs, trees and wildflowers.
Crewe Green Link Road South was granted planning permission in October 2011 and is slated for completion in 2015.
The link road would not be the first large scheme to fall foul of GCNs York: £90 million shopping development delayed by months.
East Sussex: A259 closed for two weeks when newts found during resurfacing Durham: £14 million Police HQ halted. Delays thought to have cost £250,000