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Mitigation: must try harder

In your recent article on the costs of wildlife legislation (NCE 29 May) the image used is not a great crested newt but an alpine newt – not native to Great Britain and so not protected by law in the UK.
The example cited is one of a few where the presence of great crested newts has led to delays and additional cost to projects. However, in the majority of cases, good ecological advice can minimise these impacts.

It is inconceivable that the direct cost of the mitigation was £1.2M and I understand that a good proportion of the £1.2M quoted included the costs for maintaining standing plant whilst newts were cleared.

I can only think that the project team did not involve ecologists in the project early enough. If this advice wasn't sought, or was given and not acted upon, you can only blame the project team.

In my 10 years working as an ecological consultant I can say that there are three things that make for smooth project delivery where protected wildlife is involved: ecological surveys at the conceptual project stage; an iterative design process that minimises impacts; and early consultations with statutory authorities.
These, and a pragmatic approach to wildlife protection, usually mean that ecological mitigation measures can be built into project budgets and lead to real benefits for biodiversity.

BOB EDMONDS, principal ecologist, SLR Consulting, Aspect House, Aspect Business Park, Bennerley Road, Nottingham, NG6 8WR

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