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Old 13th April 2008   #1
Wes von Papinešu
(wes_von_papinešu)
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Default GBR Press: Safe again Ė thanks to newts rescue op

NORTHERN ECHO (Darlington, UK) 12 April 08 Safe again Ė thanks to newts rescue op (Paul Cook)
A species of endangered and protected newt has been found among hundreds of amphibians trapped in a halfbuilt swimming pool.
Developers have rescued up to 200 frogs, toads and newts after they were discovered on a building site at Durham Tees Valley Airport. They included one specimen of Britain's biggest and rarest newt - the great crested.
The species is infamous for halting developments because of its protected status.
But on this occasion, the development team hopes its plans will be approved as quickly as possible, because they include a wildlife pond.
After rescuing them, the developers took the colonies to a temporary habitat elsewhere on the airport site, but want to return them to the proposed pond.
Steve Barker, head of planning for BHP Develop, the planning team on behalf of Sven Investments, said: "As part of the application, we wanted to build a newt pond. We wanted to do that because we knew there were newts in the area. But not actually on the site itself until we found this."
The pool was part of a previous hotel and leisure complex at the airport, which was later abandoned.
The amphibians were only found during a survey, which was conducted as part of the planning process.
Mr Barker said the animals had climbed into the drains because it appeared to be a perfect habitat for them.
However, they could not escape from the pipes, and had begun to starve to death.
BHP enlisted its licensed ecological consultants Naturally Wild to rescue the animals.
The company's director and amphibian specialist Graeme Skinner said: "It was simply impossible for them to get out, They were emaciated and in a poor condition.
"So far we have taken 75 frogs out of some of the drains and a slightly larger number of newts.
"It is a difficult task because it is a dangerous site. Amphibians are also more active at night so the bulk is a night-time project."
Other species found included common frog, common toad and smooth newt.
Great crested newts can live for up to 27 years. Adults grow to 17cm and have dark grey-brown skin with yellow or orange underbellies.
They are protected and it is illegal to catch or handle them. Despite their rare status, they are a common species in Darlington because its heavy clay soils create wetland areas.
* The application was submitted in February and developers are hoping it will be considered by planners within the next two months.
http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/new..._rescue_op.php



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