The Landmark Practice was commissioned in 2000 by David Wilson Homes (DWH) to undertake an ecological assessment of an allocated development site at Marnel Park, 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 including large-scale trapping and translocation of a significant population of Great Crested Newts.
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. Subsequently further applications have expanded the mitigation area to 8 new waterbodies, and over 15 hectares of high quality habitat created. As the scheme comprised numerous phases of development, trapping and translocation was phased between 2005 and 2016, with over 7000 GCN captured and relocated. Due to the design of the mitigation scheme, double handling of individuals was minimised.
To raise public awareness, leaflets in residents Home Buyers’ packs and interpretation boards designed by our in house graphics team 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 with new waterbodies becoming occupied shortly following their creation.
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.