Hotel work halted until newts are moved

PUBLISHED: 11:40 30 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:10 05 July 2010

THE opening of a £2.3m hotel has been set back two months after building work was brought to a standstill when endangered newts were found on the site.

THE opening of a £2.3m hotel has been set back two months after building work was brought to a standstill when endangered newts were found on the site.

Work on the 47-room Travelodge, in Lowestoft, started earlier this year, but great crested newts - which are protected by law - were found living in a pond on the site.

A small number of the newts, which are the largest species in Britain and can grow up to 17cm long, were found on the plot, off Leisure Way, in the spring.

They were carefully moved, with help from Natural England and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, but just as work was about to get back under way in June, more newts were found and a stop order was issued, forcing all heavy machinery off the site.

Suffolk has always been a stronghold for the endangered species, which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and it is an offence to disturb or kill them or to cause damage to their habitat.

They have suffered a major decline in numbers during the last century because many breeding sites have being damaged or lost during large-scale building work, but now a newts survey has to be carried out before any construction work can get under way.

Now next week - more than two months since the newts were discovered - specialists will be carefully capturing and moving the protected amphibians to another pond, which will not be affected by the building work.

Although heavy machinery will be able to return to the site once the animals have been removed, the costly delay means that the hotel - one of five being built by Travelodge as part of an £18.4m expansion scheme - will no longer be able to open in time for Christmas as planned.

A spokesman for Travelodge said: “We have now got our licence to move the newts to a nearby pond. Once that process is completed, we will recommence work, but we do not have a definite date as yet.

“We are hoping that the newts will be removed next week so that work can start soon after that.

“Sadly, it means that the opening of the hotel has now had to be pushed back to February rather than December.”

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