New habitats for Hamptons’ endangered species
The Hamptons is the first of its kind to receive a Natural England project licence for its work with great crested newts and water voles.
The licence allows for development to take place in Hampton East while making substantial efforts to protect these endangered species.
Natural England is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It advises the government on how to protect nature and landscape in England for people to enjoy.
The licence will allow O&H to move great crested newts and water voles living in the development area and relocating them to a purpose-built habitat on the site. Before this takes place, an Ecological Clerk of Works will be present to brief the contractors to ensure relocation only happens where unavoidable.
The licence is for a fixed two-year period across the whole site which is more than 5 square kilometres in size. The licence will be revised every two years across the lifespan of the site.
Without this special licence, some of the activities to move the habitats would have been unlawful. It recognises the dedication and sensitivity O&H has shown towards protecting the great crested newts and water voles’ communities.
It’s a proud moment as it shows that well-needed facilities and infrastructure such as roads and schools can be built alongside a rare and remarkable site of scientific special interest.
Back in 1997 when the first homes were built in The Hamptons, much work had already been done to protect the habitats for both great crested newts and water voles by the creation of new communities for their human friends.
Both water voles and great crested newts are species under threat. Water voles were once common in Britain and inspired the character of ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic The Wind in the Willows. Since then the vole’s numbers have plummeted, and it is the UK’s fastest declining mammal.
Great crested newt numbers have also declined, owing to loss of habitat, and both voles and newts are now heavily protected by law. The good news is that Hampton Nature Reserve has increased the local population of great crested newts from 24,000 to 34,000 over the last 10 years, a 40% increase. It is now Europe’s largest colony.
The licence means that plans for Hamptons East can continue. There will be four new villages to the east of the A15: Hampton Beach, Hampton Gardens, Hampton Woods and Hampton Water. Alongside the existing lakes, woodlands and open spaces available to the Hampton Hargate and Hampton Vale communities, these new villages will provide further leisure opportunities such as sailing, swimming, walking and bird watching.
Find out more here about great crested newts and water voles and the work O&H does with wildlife charity Froglife.