Plans for the new multi-million pound Durham Police headquarters can now go ahead after Natural England granted them a wildlife licence relating to great crested newts.
The building work can begin once a fence has been erected to prevent any great crested newts from being harmed by entering the site.
Outside this fence, great crested newts will be carefully captured and moved to a suitable receptor site nearby after their hibernation ends in Spring.
Durham Constabulary hope that the move to the new police headquarters will enable them to make annual savings of around £750,000.
“This is excellent news for the people of County Durham and Darlington because the savings made will go towards maintaining police officer numbers and continued high performance by the force.”
– Gary Ridley, Assistant Chief Officer for Durham Constabulary
“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to issue a licence that will allow this important development to proceed in harmony with our wildlife, landscapes and laws.
As well as providing a modern base for the police the project will create a bigger, better habitat for great crested newts so this licence represents a significant step forward for both Durham constabulary and one of our most cherished native species.”
The discovery of a newt, that could potentially be a rare great crested newt, has halted building work on Durham Police's new 14 million pound state-of-the-art headquarters.
The amphibian is believed to have been found hundreds of yards off site, near the East Coast mainline after an ecologist carried out a survey last year. If confirmed as the rare breed, there are fears that it may try to move during construction work.
The police force applied to Natural England for a licence to relocate the newt, but the body which protects the natural environment asked for more information and is yet to make its decision.
Police are said to be frustrated by the delays at a time it is making changes to cut costs. Natural England says it is now treating the issue as a top priority.