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