UNDER THREAT: The great crested newt
UNDER THREAT: The great crested newt

PLANS to create a series of wildlife ponds at Barningham to house an endangered newt species have been submitted to Durham County Council.
The scheme aims to create six ponds in two locations to “encourage and enhance” great crested newt colonies that have had their habitats destroyed by developments within the county.
The greater crested newt, the largest native British newt, is officially classed as an endangered species and are protected by law.
Robert Lowes, of D and M Lowes and Sons, is proposing to create the pond habitats on semi-improved grazing land at Crooks House, Barningham.
The project, backed by Durham Wildlife Trust and Natural England, is part of a wider scheme to compensate for developments in County Durham where habitats for great crested newt will be destroyed to allow building to go ahead. In the application William Ingham, agent for Mr Lowes, states: “The scheme is designed to conserve and enhance both habitat and population of the great crested newt and the two respective sites have been chosen subject to a survey by Durham Wildlife Trust for their respective merits.
“The wider farm holding is a site which has been, and continues to be, managed with conservation at the forefront and this scheme contributes greatly.”
All six proposed ponds lie within Natural England’s strategic opportunity areas for great crested newts. There is an existing wetland area nearby attracting wading birds. Although there is no public access to the fields all ponds will be fenced off. It is proposed four ponds will be sited in one location with the other two in a separate area.
Mr Ingham added: “They will have a minimum depth of 25cm with a gently sloping gradient down to a maximum depth of one metre.”