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Newts hold up work on business park
AN aerospace giant embarked on a multi million pound development and found itself facing a somewhat smaller problem - the safety of great crested newts!
Bosses at BAE Systems, Samlesbury, had to carry out a 40-day search for the animals before work could begin on the first phase of a £100million aerospace business park that will include the development of four new office blocks.
The action was prompted by existence of a newt breeding pond on the south side of the site and BAE chiefs were obliged to undertake the search or face a £5,000 fine for every newt that was killed in the development.
The newt is a protected species because of the threat to its habitat posed by new building developments which have seen the erosion of the wetland and ponds where they traditionally breed.
A line of trees was also chopped down to make way for a new entrance on the A59, closer to the Mellor roundabout, intruding on a number of wildlife habitats.
Operation Newt included 25 newt trapping nights, all but five of which were successful.
Regulations state that newt trapping nights must not be too cold, wet, windy or dry. As the operation coincided with a dry period, BAE Systems drafted in a fire truck from its Warton site to spray the area with water creating the ideal conditions for newt activity.
With the Newts protected by law, BAE Systems got a newt licence' allowing it to trap out' the development area.
Dave Holmes, heading strategic development at Samlesbury, for BAE Systems, said: "While there is a lighter side to this story, we do take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously.
"It is also important to remember that there are around 1,000 aerospace companies here in the North West supporting over 60,000 people and, in turn, supporting another 80,000 jobs.
"Our hope is that man, machine and newt can, in this instance at least, live happily side by side."
The newts, together with frogs and toads, were relocated to a pond elsewhere on the 350-acre Samlesbury site.
Local environmentalists and BAE workers helped out with the newt search.
Work officially began on the development last Friday and the first new workers could be in place by the start of next year.