Council claims newts stand in the way of Dale Farm solution

In the High Court Basildon Council revealed that permission for the Dale Farm community to resettle on an alternative site was refused because of the possibility that newts may live there. The land, owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, was offered in August this year at no cost to Basildon Council. [1]

Basildon Council’s solicitor reported that the application was rejected even though the possible existence of Great Crested Newts will not be known until the spring. [2]

Instead of waiting until next year to assess if there are newts on the proposed site, Basildon Council chose to rejection the application and spend £18 million on a forced eviction of the Dale Farm residents.

Lord Eric Avebury, Chairman of the Department for Education Stakeholder Group on Gypsies, Romanies and Travellers, said “Unlike some Basildon residents, I’m sure the newts and bats won’t mind having a few Travellers living next door.  I warmly approve the offer by the Homes and Communities Agency. Similar arrangements for Traveller sites in or near Basildon would save the £18 million budgeted for the eviction, money that could be used to fund developments that would allow the Dale Farm residents at risk to move voluntarily and peacefully to new locations. Lets hope that Tony Ball will adopt the common sense solution.”

Dale Farm resident, Mary McCarthy, said “I can’t believe that Basildon Council are placing the rights of newts over the rights of our community to a home. The council is finding any excuse to drive us out of Basildon.”

Dale Farm supporter, Ali Saunders, added “Tony Ball’s leadership is becoming untenable. It has been shown in court that there are alternatives to a confrontational eviction strategy at huge human and financial cost. Tony Ball needs to resign or return to the negotiating table.”

The planned eviction has been the subject of increasing criticism as court proceedings continue into a third week. Labour leader Ed Miliband argued on Thursday that “instead of grandstanding, the Council should be providing alternative sites. It must be possible for them to provide an alternative site for the Travellers so that they can take the heat out of what has become a very controversial issue, which doesn’t do anyone any good.”

The Scrap yard that the Dale Farm community bought in 2001 was not known to have had protected wildlife living on the site.


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11 Responses to Council claims newts stand in the way of Dale Farm solution

  1. twointoone says:

    If Ball becomes any more buffoonish he would have to wear a jesters hat…newts, bats and eyes of frogs? Is this a Shakespearian play? The shifty bulldog looking Ball and his council officers are clearly prejudiced and shouldn’t be any position of authority…get them out now or we will soon have a donkey as a mayor

  2. smogz45 says:

    I know this site very well and feel that there is some distortion of the facts here. Its not just about newts and Basildon council using them as an excuse.

    I have read through the planning application and seen the phase 1 ecological survey by Stuart Harwick Caruthers an IT consultant and major activist at Dale Farm who claims to be the suitably qualified ecologist who carried out the surveys. Once in March 2010 with a biodiversity checklist and then again in May 2010 with a full phase 1 report.

    1. It’s a site recognised as an area of significant herpitle importance in south Essex by the Essex Wildlife Trust who are not Basildon Council and I highly doubt could be accused of making decisions on race.

    2. it’s recognised as a habitat for not only Great Crested Newts, but also Smooth Newts, Bats, Field Mice, Slow Worms and Adders. All protected species. There is also significant flora and fauna on the site along with natural grasslands. Mr Caruthers confirms this in both his March 2011 checklist and May 2011 survey.

    3. The plan of the site looks suspiciously like it has roads included with the provision to expand.

    4. The entrance is opposite a school on a dangerous corner.

    5. I commend Mr Carruthers on proposing that it should become a nature reserve however I feel and many others who live locally feel that plonking a 12 pitch traveller’s site here is detrimental to the ecology of the site.

    You can see the planning application yourself along with all the supporting documents and decision here..

    So this isn’t just Basildon Council being racist and driving travellers out of Basildon. This is a wildlife site and should be protected.

    The proposed site near the old rifle club on Gardeners lane is a much more suitable site.

  3. PS you do not find them on every development site. Just wonder why the HCA (formerly English Partnerships) offered this site for free? Mitigation for placing caravans on newt, reptile and bat habitat costs a lot of money.

  4. Just to confirm that the site offered for the travellers does have great crested newts and these have been known from the site since the 1990s. There is no need to wait until next spring as the Council’s own records show that they are there. Considering these newts live for 15 years they will still be there breeding in the ponds which were created as mitigation for the previous plan for a rugby pitch on that land!

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  6. Diana Smith says:

    Whatever happened to forward planning/thinking? In another 10 years there will be more flexible thinking …this battle will be looked back on as the Council being stubborn jobsworths

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  10. pentangelis says:

    Mr Justice Ouseley replied: “The great crested newt.”
    Mr Taylor said: “Indeed.”

    Mr Justice Ouseley said: “You find them on every development site, don’t you? Because they carry out surveys.”

    If according to the Judge, every development site has great crested newts, then why are they so heavily protected and why did Basildon Council refuse permission?
    Seems to me that we should re-name the great crested newt @Peter (crying) Wolf.
    Come on Basildon, get off your high newt and face reallity!

  11. Isn’t it interesting to see how, the longer this process is protracted, the more emerges about the dismal performance of Basildon Council headed by Mr. Ball?
    Notwithstanding the situation at Dale Farm, it really seems the council is being run by people of extremely dubious competence and equally questionable ethics.
    Given the aforementioned gentleman promised to resign in May this year if he had failed to evict the Dale Farm community by then, isn’t it time he fell upon his rusty blade and did us all a favour?

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