Nicholsons (formerly Lockhart Garratt) were instructed by the county council in relation to a number of extensions to primary schools across the county in 2015. As part of this instruction habitat and protected species surveys were required to assess the impacts of the proposed extensions, most notably in relation to bats and Great Crested Newts.
In one of the schools, a small ornamental pond was due to be lost as a result of the extension and so GCN surveys were undertaken. During the survey work no protected amphibians were found, but due to the presence of other common species, an ecological watching brief was recommended by LG to minimise the risk of any injury to animals using the pond. The pond was drained down under the supervision of qualified ecologist and any animals found were carefully removed and translocated to another area within the school grounds. During this work, 2 male GCN were found at the bottom of the pond. In accordance with current legislation all works has to stop immediately and a Natural England licence was sought to translocate the animals and mitigate appropriately for them. A temporary pond was created and Temporary Amphibian Fencing erected to protect the amphibians during the construction process.
Additionally a new, permanent pond, was created by the school to provide compensation for the loss of the original pond. This was designed to be more naturalised than the original pond with native aquatic planting. Once all of the construction work was completed, the temporary pond was removed and any amphibians translocated to the new pond. As part of the Natural England requirements the pond was monitored for 4 years and the good news is that it is doing really well! The 2 male GCN have been found on most monitoring surveys and over 135 smooth newts have been counted within the pond. In addition the school has a lovely wildlife pond to provide them with an insight into the importance of the environment and nature.