Popley Fields, Basingstoke

Great crested newt mitigation strategy- development and delivery.

Client

David Wilson Homes (Southern)

Background

Landmark was commissioned in 2000 by David Wilson Homes (DWH) to undertake an ecological assessment of an allocated development site on the outskirts of Basingstoke, followed by production of the ecological element of an EIA. We produced a protected species management plan that formed part of a S106 Agreement, and prepared the applications for the European Protected Species (EPS) licences to enable development of the different phases of the scheme and implementation of the site wide mitigation strategy.

 

Description

The site comprised arable land, bordered by hedgerows and a small copse, located adjacent to Popley Ponds Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The collection of ponds are a known breeding site for the European protected species great crested newt and the application site represented the last remaining open countryside connected with it. Surveys of the breeding ponds were undertaken to establish the population size and to determine the use of terrestrial habitat within the site by great crested newts.

A mitigation strategy was then formulated in collaboration with English Nature (now Natural England), entailing the creation of a 40 m wide buffer of rough grass / scrub habitat along the boundary with the breeding pond, and two similar corridors with large, culvert underpasses beneath road crossings, linking through the site to countryside beyond. As an enhancement measure, two new ponds were proposed with potential to re-establish links to an extant breeding population of great crested newts 1 km from Popley Ponds.

To raise public awareness, leaflets in residents Home Buyers’ packs and interpretation boards have been provided. The development also features a great crested newt mosaic, designed by local school children and the artist Julieann Worrall Hood in a project sponsored by DWH. Ongoing monitoring indicates that the mitigation has been successful and the population is expanding its range.

 

Client Benefits

Close collaboration with Natural England and the local planning authority to enable development to take place whilst delivering an attractive environment for new residents. As a consequence of the successful initial stage of the project, a high quality piece of research was generated, which has had benefits for the client in terms of facilitating current and future phases of development across the site.