RARE and protected great crested newts and other amphibians are to be given their own road underpass to ensure they continue to thrive.
Ecology experts carried out a year-long study of an area where a new road has been proposed as part of the plans for more than 1,000 new homes in Glenboig.
Banks Property, called in the experts from Heritage Environment Ltd to carry out the study and they found amphibians could be at risk from road traffic as they moved to nearby ponds to breed.
The great crested newt is a rare and protected amphibian with a very restricted distribution in Scotland. Gartcosh Local Nature Reserve, which is adjacent to the development area, supports one of Scotland’s largest populations and is therefore of particular importance for the species. It is owned and managed by North Lanarkshire Council.
Mark Bates, director of Ecology at Heritage Environment Ltd, said: “These newts, like other amphibians, spend most of their life cycle out of water in a number of terrestrial habitats but breed in pools and ponds.
“As our study identified that a small proportion of the Nature Reserve’s newts would have to cross the proposed new road to enter these ponds one of our key recommendations is the creation of an underpass to prevent them being killed.”
Mark and his team were previously involved in the establishment of the Local Nature Reserve when they provided its design, before translocating the newts and other amphibians from the former Gartcosh Steel Works to the new ponds within the Reserve.
Their recent detailed study over 12 months involved the temporary safe capture of newts in order to track their movements and provide appropriate mitigation measures for the road.
Mark added: “We’ll be providing the Glenboig Consortium with a range of recommendations to ensure the proposed new road has negligible effects on the newt population”.
“With regards to the wider proposed development, we will also be providing designs of newt movement corridors to be incorporated into the layout. The corridors will include a range of newly created wetland and terrestrial habitats.
“These measures will allow the newts access to the wider countryside and potentially establish new populations within Lanarkshire.”
Banks Property, in conjunction with partner developers, is behind plans for 1,040 new properties at Glenboig, near the Gartcosh Business Exchange, a move which will help complete the regeneration the area.
The Hamilton-based company has carried out extensive consultation with local people and says the plans are a boost for the community, which has suffered historically from loss of mining and fire clay works.
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Property, said: “Throughout this process we have listened to extensive feedback and shaped plans that are the best possible fit for the setting and sympathetic to the local environment
“So we are extremely pleased the ecology experts have come up with a range of practical solutions to safeguard such an important pocket of rare wildlife, including underpasses and newt corridors.
“What is particularly pleasing is the possibility that the changes proposed could actually encourage the Great Crested Newts to thrive in other parts of North Lanarkshire.”
The 1,040 homes earmarked for Glenboig are part of a Community Growth Area identified by local planners and the Scottish Government. In total, it could see up to 3,000 properties created by a number of developers, delivering 2,600 constructions jobs and an estimated £1 billion boost to the region.
Banks Property is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 420 people in the property, renewable energy and mining sectors.
It develops land for commercial and residential property development and is committed to creating sustainable communities where people want to live and work, developing sites ranging from less than an acre to more than 300 acres.
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