Company fined for damaging home of newts

A COMPANY has been fined �1000 after pleading guilty to destroying the habitat of protected newts. A breeding ground of great crested newts was damaged by EDF Energy Networks (EPN) PLC at an electricity infrastructure site in Stansted Mountfitchet. The en

A COMPANY has been fined �1000 after pleading guilty to destroying the habitat of protected newts.

A breeding ground of great crested newts was damaged by EDF Energy Networks (EPN) PLC at an electricity infrastructure site in Stansted Mountfitchet.

The energy company had carried out construction work without an ecological assessment, heard Chelmsford Magistrates' Court last Friday (March 6).

Natural England's wildlife management adviser for Essex Paul Cantwell said: "This case highlights the importance of companies, including utility companies, of carrying out ecological assessments before undertaking works on sites where there may be protected species.


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"It is not just large scale developments or projects that can have detrimental impacts on protected species, smaller scale work such as this can also be damaging."

The great crested newt is Britain's largest newt species and they can grow up to 17cm in length. The newts, which have a life span of more than 25 years, have declined in numbers because of the destruction of their habitat.

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Wildlife crime co-ordinator for Essex Police PC Andrew Long said: "This case demonstrates that Essex Police, working with agencies such as Natural England can have a positive impact on wildlife crime.

"Essex Police will, where possible, investigate matters of wildlife crime, and if there is sufficient evidence refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service."

The energy company was ordered to pay �90 costs as well as the fine.

The newts breed in ponds but spend much of their lives on land, sometimes venturing several hundred metres away. A licence is required to undertake any actions affecting great crested newts or their habitat.

For details about the law regarding protected species in England or for more information about Natural England - the government's advisor on the natural environment - visit their website at www.naturalengland.org.uk

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