SnOasis decision delayed again

A ROW over the future of newts on the proposed SnOasis development site is set to put the project back by more than a month, it emerged today.

A ROW over the future of newts on the proposed SnOasis development site is set to put the project back by more than a month, it emerged today.

Following concerns raised by Natural England about the fate of the protected great crested newts on the former quarry earmarked for the £300million leisure complex, the date for a final decision on the project has been moved back.

Secretary of State for Communities, Hazel Blears, had been due to give an announcement as to whether the development can go ahead on September 25.

However as a result of the ongoing concerns that date has now been shifted back to November 5.

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Developers Onslow have criticised Natural England for dragging its heels, claiming more than adequate provision is being made to re-locate protected great crested newts from the site.

Godfrey Spanner, director of Onslow, said: “We have been working with an ecologist who is one of the finest in the country on newt relocation so we can't see why they are objecting.

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“They can't tell us why they are objecting because we have met every requirement of the planning act.

“The project has been pushed back over the past 18 months and we are now in a position where we will start work in a more difficult economic climate.

“We had planned to be open for visiting teams to train with us for the 2012 Olympics but we are going to miss that slot altogether.”

A spokeswoman for Natural England said the body is not aiming to prevent development.

"We are not trying to stop this development - merely to ensure it is done in a way that protects the colony of great crested newts, an internationally important species,” she said.

"The Secretary of State explicitly asked for our concerns about the newts to be met to enable the development to go ahead.

"From the development plans supplied to us we infer that a high proportion of the existing great crested newt habitats will be lost."

Under normal circumstances Natural England's opposition to a scheme would see it refuse to grant a licence for the relocation of the newts, thereby preventing any construction work to go ahead.

However if the Secretary of State for Communities, Hazel Blears, announces that SnOasis should be built then her Department for Communities and Local Government could instruct Natural England to issue a licence against its own wishes.

Is enough done to offset the ecological impact of large-scale developments? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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