Hamels Park Farm: Great Crested Newt Mitigation

Background

Hamels Park Farm is located in the open countryside to the west of the A10 near Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. The development site comprised a number of redundant agricultural buildings within a former farmyard which were likely to fall further into disrepair and possibly lose their listed building status.

To the north-east of the site is a pond situated within an area of rough grassland, shrubs, small woodland and a hard standing area. This pond was known to support great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) which are protected by European and UK legislation, and requiring a European Protected Species licence in order for any works to be carried out. The improvement of the aquatic and terrestrial habitat for great crested newts on the site formed part of the overall development process.

BSG Ecology’s role in the project

Enterprise Heritage commissioned BSG Ecology to prepare an ecological method statement detailing potential impacts on the great crested newt population including mitigation strategies.

We recommended:

  • The installation of preventative drainage measures to ensure that surface runoff, such as hydrocarbons or salt from the construction site, did not enter the pond.
  • The breaking up of the hard standing area to the east of the pond and creation of a newt hibernation bank and new terrestrial habitat.
  • The creation of an additional pond, off site, in the parkland to the north-east of the main breeding pond.

Mitigation

The method statement, developed in consultation with the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, proposed that the main pond and surrounding terrestrial habitat was protected during the works and further provision for the newts was made. All work on site relating to great crested newts was supervised by BSG Ecology and site personnel were given an induction into the ecology of great crested newts, their legal status and the methods of working required to avoid causing harm.

Water quality was enhanced and the habitat of the main breeding pond was improved to remove silt and reduce shading by surrounding trees.

A second pond was created on the adjacent farmland and natural colonisation by newts was allowed to occur. All introduced plants were of locally native stock. Residents were informed about the presence of great crested newts and the importance of the pond remaining free of fish.

In addition, farm machinery and hard surfacing were removed from the adjacent habitat on the eastern bank of the main pond to allow for storage of silt and the development of an amphibian hibernation bank. The road layout, kerbs and gully pot positioning were designed to limit contamination from runoff and the safe dispersal of newts.

Outcomes

Before development, a maximum of seven adult great crested newts were recorded at the original farm pond. After the works were completed, 28 individuals were recorded and the following year this number rose to 47 individuals. This has changed the status of the site from a ‘small’ to a ‘medium’ population under Natural England guidelines.

We completed a three year monitoring programme, the results of which have been sent to the Hertfordshire Biological Records Centre.

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