Darlington council questioned by environmental activists

ENVIRONMENTAL activists have criticised a council after a car park was built near a pond which is now home to great crested newts. Kendra Ullyart, coordinator of Darlington Friends of the Earth group, believes Darlington Borough Council did not carry out the required environmental checks before it built a carpark on Alderman Best Road, within 100 metres of a pond – a claim the council has refuted. Ms Ullyart said: “The government rules are clear, there are three reasons why a great crested newt survey should be completed before filling out the planning application and this site ticks all three.  “Our council has a position of trust and their reputation is at stake.” Green Party Councillor Matthew Snedker added: “The information that has been passed to me is deeply concerning.  “If there is pond within 500m a great crested newt survey must be done.” Councillor Alan Marshall, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Economy, said: “All planning applications are considered in the same way to ensure all developments follow the required legislation. In this instance, two ecology surveys were carried out in 2012 and 2013 at the site and it was deemed low risk with no protected species.  “Having taken the reports fully into account and following consultations with the council’s ecologist when the planning application was submitted in 2016, it was deemed low risk, because it didn’t infringe on the wider ecological area and didn’t include any new vegetation.” Cllr Marshall confirmed that great crested newts were found close to the site in 2017, but by this time the construction was complete. “The planning application fully reflected this evidence when it was submitted,” he said. “The council is satisfied that consideration was taken into account when the decision was taken.”
Source: Local News from the Northern Echo

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