Newts moved to aid flood repairs

A Great-Crested Newt at Ea Beck, near Bentley. Environment agency ecologists are relocating them so that a flood bank can be repaired. Picture: Marie Caley D2463MC
A Great-Crested Newt at Ea Beck, near Bentley. Environment agency ecologists are relocating them so that a flood bank can be repaired. Picture: Marie Caley D2463MC

ENDANGERED newts are being moved to make way for repair work to a flood bank following the devastating downpours which wrecked parts of Doncaster.

The bank along the Ea Beck near Bentley, desperately needs rebuilding after the summer floods of 2007.

As part of a £2.6 million investment to alleviate further flooding, great crested newts which had been hibernating are having to be moved to nearby land.

Environment Agency ecologists moved on to the land yesterday to start the process of moving the amphibians to an adjacent nature reserve.

Construction work to protect nearly 1,500 homes from Adwick-le-Street to Bentley has been split into four parts.

A phase was carried out last year before being suspended in the winter and newt hibernation season.

Andrew Virtue, biodiversity officer, said: “The newts breed in ponds between April and June but outside of this period they live on land, hiding under stones or dense vegetation.

“One side of the flood embankment at Ea Beck was right next to a significant breeding pond and the embankment was so overgrown that it had become ideal newt habitat.

“Because of their protected status, we had to clear this area of newts before any work could begin.

“It’s important that this population is maintained intact because surveys have shown it to be a large one.

“The ponds at Ea Beck form part of an important corridor for newts between the A19 and another very large population at Thorpe Marsh Nature Reserve.

“The adjacent land is a nature reserve so the newts will be safe there. Once we have moved all of the newts work can take place to reconstruct the flood bank, giving peace of mind to local people.”

Great crested newts are so rare that a special licence is needed to handle or move them.

Reinforced polythene fencing has been put up around the embankment and buckets sunk into the ground to catch the newts.

Re-homing the newts will take around two months to complete and afterwards work on the flood bank will start.