Bellway has received a Gold Supporter Award in recognition of its conservation work with NatureSpace Partnership to safeguard great crested newts.
Bellway has joined forces with NatureSpace to ensure this threatened species is identified during the planning process and can be relocated to a new off-site habitat if needed.
The award recognises Bellway’s commitment to the partnership at developments across three developments in Milton Keynes, Cholsey in Oxfordshire and Daventry in Northamptonshire during 2021. The two companies have since continued their relationship, working together on a variety of major planning applications. In 2021 through these projects Bellway committed £137,643 towards great crested newt conservation.
Robert James, Project Director for Bellway, was invited to a conservation site in Oxfordshire to receive the award from NatureSpace and the Newt Conservation Partnership.
Robert said: “As a responsible developer building thousands of homes each year, Bellway is firmly committed to sustainability. Protecting great crested newts is crucial to our aim of enhancing biodiversity.
“Working with NatureSpace Partnership gives us access to detailed analysis of great crested newt habitats long before we begin work on a new development. The level of insight they can provide plays a major role in reducing the risk of disturbing newts.
“Our collaborative work means we can be sure where we may find newts, we can mitigate appropriately and become authorised to work under a licence more quickly.
“One real point of difference with NatureSpace is the scale of its conservation activity, which creates and manages new habitats for great crested newts away from the development site.”
NatureSpace has created the first long-term strategy of its kind in the UK for great crested newt conservation. In partnership with the Amphibian and Reptile Conversation Trust, Freshwater Habitats Trust, and the Newt Conservation Partnership, it has invested more than £3.5 million in projects across its operating area.
NatureSpace has so far made 595ha of habitats available and created or restored 172 ponds across 41 local authority operating areas, with another 19 local planning authorities joining by the end of this year.
Tom Tew, CEO for NatureSpace Partnership, said: “It’s a real pleasure to meet Rob and be able to congratulate a major housebuilder for their environmental actions – to see large companies walk the environmental walk.
“We hope, of course, the scheme provides planners and developers with quick, simple and cost-effective solutions but primarily it’s about conservation action – every time Bellway uses the scheme, they directly fund the actions and infrastructure that improve the future landscape for great crested newts and hundreds of other freshwater species.”
NatureSpace Partnership has collated data, survey results and worked with modelling specialists to create an Impact Risk Map which demonstrates where great crested newts are likely to be present across the landscape. The information can be used by Bellway to assess where likely conflicts could occur within a development site, and to plan mitigation. This means projects that would usually pause can continue.
To date 41 local authorities have worked with NatureSpace to gain an Organisational Licence to work within the scheme.
Robert James added: “NatureSpace is a valued partner. Its team’s expertise helps to reduce delays to planning, prevents any unforeseen discoveries and provides proportionate mitigation where required. The scheme also takes on the management and monitoring of habitats long term, meaning we can outsource the ongoing conservation work.”
To find out more about Bellway’s conservation work see https://sustainability.bellwayplc.co.uk/.
For more information about NatureSpace Partnership, go to https://naturespaceuk.com/.