£210k of public money to be spent building ponds for newts made homeless by A500 Crewe Green link road
MORE than £200,000 of taxpayers' cash is to be spent creating new homes for newts living in the path of a key road.
Construction of the £30 million bypass to the A500 will destroy ponds inhabited by the rare amphibians.
Instead, two new pools are set to be created for the great crested newts, below, which are protected under EU law.
Councillors were expected to approve the creation of the 'artificial wetland areas' at a meeting today.
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The new ponds are expected to cost up to £190,000, with an extra £20,000 needed to lease the land and cover the cost of surveyors and lawyers.
A Wildlife Trust spokesman said: "This area is an important stronghold for great crested newts, given its long history of ponds and small wetlands. It may even be the 'pond capital' of Europe.
"The creation of new ponds, especially if well-managed, is a tried-and-tested conservation technique to safeguard these rare amphibians."
The new 1.1-kilometre Crewe Green Link Road – linking the A500 and the A5020 Weston Road near Crewe – is intended to ease congestion and improve access to Junction 16 of the M6.
Barry Proctor, owner of Talke haulage firm Barry Proctor Services, believes the link road is needed.
He said: "Driving to Crewe at the moment is a nightmare because of the congestion on Weston Road. Anything that relieves it has to be welcomed.
"The project will also create jobs, which we also need."
Work must start on the ponds this month so they will be ready to receive the newts next year, before work on the road begins.
Today's report to Cheshire East Council states: "The construction of the proposed Crewe Green Link Road South will result in the loss of natural great crested newt habitat areas which in accordance with protected species guidelines must be mitigated by the provision of suitable alternative habitat. This is also a condition of our planning permission for the road.
"The council will be able to claim some of the money back from the Department for Transport, which is providing 60 per cent of the funding for the bypass – but only if the road scheme goes ahead."
The newt habitats are between the A500 and Weston Lane, near Basford Brook, and near Savoy Road, Crewe. The sites are currently held by the Co-op and a private land owner.
The discovery of great crested newts is often raised by objectors in planning applications. But the discovery of the amphibians failed to stop the redevelopment of Stoke City's Trent Vale training ground.