Boris Johnson’s plan to build swimming pool in Oxfordshire could be scuppered by newts

Boris Johnson (left) could have his plans scuppered by a population of newts. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson’s plans to build an outdoor swimming pool at his Oxfordshire country manor could be at risk of being cancelled due to a population of newts.

The former prime minister’s planning application was met with a holding objection raising concerns that the local population of great crested newts (GCN) could be threatened by the construction.

The objection comes after Mr Johnson in 2020 blamed “newt-counting” red tape in the planning system for delays in housebuilding.

A planning application was lodged in June with South Oxfordshire District Council for the installation of a new 11-by-four-metre swimming pool on the grounds of his home.

He lives at Grade II-listed Brightwell Manor with his wife Carrie and their three young children.

But the South and Vale countryside officer last month filed a holding objection, protesting that the rare amphibians could be “impacted by the proposed development”.

Local government ecologist Edward Church wrote in his report: “There are known populations of great crested newts … in the east of the village.

“Mapping shows that there is a pond onsite and a moat immediately adjacent to the southern boundary, both well within 250 metres of the position of the proposed pool.

Carrie and Boris Johnson hope to build the pool at Brightwell Manor Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

“The proposed development falls within the red zone of highest risk to GCN.

“Based on the information available to me currently, I am of the opinion that there is a reasonable likelihood that GCN are present and could be impacted by the proposed development.

“I do not recommend that planning permission is granted currently,” he concluded, saying protected species surveys “are likely to be required to support this application”.

Great crested newts, which are black with spotted flanks and an orange belly, are protected under UK and European wildlife law.

Their numbers are in decline, with habitat loss being their biggest threat.

As prime minister, Mr Johnson said in a speech about rebooting the economy three years ago that “newt-counting delays in our system are a massive drag” on productivity in the UK.

His spokesman declined to comment.

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