NIMBYs Find New Uses for Rare Newts: Development Killers
Suspicious colonies of the Great Crested Newt (not pictured above) have turned up at development sites across the U.K., alleges a Conservative member of the House of Lords. Patrick Sawer of The Telegraph reports that during a debate about affordable housing, Conservative peer Lord Borwick claimed that the newts were planted by development opponents in order to halt construction. The newts are a protected species under UK and European law.
Lord Borwick, who is himself a property developer, said Great Crested Newts were being deliberately introduced onto sites earmarked for building.
He said: "The danger is that newts can be and are transported to a controversial site by objectors in order to delay property developments which objectors dislike."
“Objectors to development plans are pretty angry about these issues and it’s not surprising if they try to cheat in this way. It’s a well-known trick in the industry and the effect is to delay the construction of badly needed housing.”
Sawer writes that in 2014 a developer in Milton Keynes spent upwards of one million pounds to catch 150 newts on the property, delaying construction by a year. Lord Borwick has suggested that the newt's status be reexamined with a "post-Brexit eye" and that the "awful amphibian" lose its protected status in the U.K. Currently, catching or killing the newts, or disturbing their habitat, risks fines or jail for six months for each offense.