Tyne & Wear

Newt deal agreed over £14m Durham Police HQ

Great crested newt
Image caption Great crested newts are protected by law

Construction of new headquarters for Durham Police can now begin after measures were agreed to protect rare amphibians found on the site.

Great crested newts are protected by law so the discovery delayed the start of the £14m project at Aykley Heads.

The force had to apply to Natural England for a wildlife licence, which has now been granted.

A newt-proof fence will be put in place and the newt colony will be transferred to a specially-created habitat nearby.

This will feature grassland and mounds of logs for refuge and hibernation.

'Cherished species'

Great crested newts became a European Protected Species following a dramatic decline in their population across Europe.

This means it is an offence to capture, kill or disturb them, as well as damage or destroy their breeding sites or resting places without an appropriate licence.

Adrian Vass from Natural England said: "This licence represents a significant step forward for both Durham constabulary and one of our most cherished native species.

"As well as providing a modern base for the police, the project will create a bigger, better habitat for great crested newts."

A Durham Police spokesman described the move forward as "excellent news".

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