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Why Newts Will Stop You Shopping at John Lewis Next Christmas

Alex Ground, planning lawyer at Russell Cooke LLP, comments

News in January that the start of building work on a major £90m shopping development in York was delayed due to a breeding newt population found at the site brought to attention again the often unexpected headache for investors and developers that newts and protected species can have on a development. The John Lewis store which will be part of the Monks Cross development in York was expected to be open in time for next Christmas but will now be delayed until Easter 2014.

The great crested newt is a European protected species; along with numerous other fauna and flora such as sand lizards and bats, it is designated as such in the UK pursuant to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 which was required in order to comply with a European Directive. It is protected as it is judged to be under grave risk of extinction. It should be noted however that it is still currently dispersed all over the country so it is an issue that can affect numerous sites throughout the UK.

Offences under the Habitats Regulations involving European protected species include deliberately killing or disturbing them. If found guilty of such an offence, a person is liable for up to six months in prison, and or a fine up to £5,000. Reputations can also be at stake and if on-going relationships with a Council are important these aspects can also cause even more problems long term.

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