Great Crested Newts halt new school project
Hayley MacePreparations for the development of a new high school in south Lowestoft has been put on hold after endangered newts were found on the site.Suffolk County Council wants to build a 900-pupil high school on the site of the existing Pakefield Middle School, to open in September 2011.Hayley Mace
Preparations for the development of a new high school in south Lowestoft have been put on hold after endangered newts were found on the site.
Suffolk County Council wants to build a 900-pupil high school on the site of the existing Pakefield Middle School, to open in September 2011.
Formal plans for the �26.5m development were submitted to Waveney District Council earlier this month but now great crested newts have been found living on the site and the developers will have to wait until February next year to carry out a full environmental survey to make sure that the protected amphibians would not be harmed if the new school is built.
The great crested newt is Britain's largest newt species and can grow up to 17cm long and live for nearly 30 years, but its population has plummeted in recent decades because of overdevelopment near the ponds where they live and breed.
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Suffolk has always been a stronghold for the animals, which are officially recognised as an endangered species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to disturb them, kill or harm them, or cause damage to their habitat.
The outline plans for the new school, which will be used from September 2011 when middle schools in the town are scrapped, went on public display in June and involve teaching space built around a curved atrium walkway topped with a canopy or fabric roof, which would function as a dining and social space for students.
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Although the discovery of newts might hold up the process of submitting plans, it is hoped that the first phase of the project will still be completed in time for a September 2011 opening date.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: "As a result of great crested newts being found on the Pakefield Middle School site, further surveys will be required before planning permission can be secured to build on the site.
"This survey can only be completed at specific times of the year due to the presence of the newts. The next possible time the survey can begin is February next year."
He added: "Once the results of the environmental survey are known, an updated planning application will be submitted, taking into account its findings.
"Parents, staff and young people can be reassured that the changes approved as part of the School Organisation Review are progressing and that the deadline of September 2011 will be met."