Company develops highway for newts

A company responsible for the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) in Kent has developed a ‘newt highway’ to preserve a large colony of rare newts.

AMEC, the earth and environmental consulting firm who are conducting the project alongside the rail link, discovered the great crested newts in a pond on their construction site. The newts – which were almost missed by teams of ecologists who surveyed hundreds of individual habitat types – were duly moved to a nearby ancient woodland site, away from the main operations.

To enable the newts to return to their pond in the breeding season, which is usually March or April, a special track bordered by temporary amphibian fencing was built between the woodland and the pond, part of which runs underneath the railway. The track, which covers several hundred yards at each side of the railway, acts as a funnel to force the newts in.

“Reducing the effect that the construction of the CTRL has had on the environment has been a prime concern”, stated Ian Buchanan, Environmental Manager on the site. He added that other lost habitats through construction have been replaced, recreated or moved to new sites.

Great Crested Newts are relatively common in the UK, but are rare in Europe and are therefore a species that is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as well as the European Habitat and Species Directive.

AMEC, who are involved in many other environmental projects around the world, are keen to emphasize their dedication to environmental sustainability. “We would endeavor to do what’s right environmentally, regardless of the legality”, an AMEC spokesman told edie.

The newt highway will be removed when the rail link is completed, leaving the newts in peace.

Story by Sarah Speight

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