CONTROVERSIAL plans to build more than 130 homes have been hit by a new setback.

A colony of great crested newts have been discovered on land at Ffordd Newydd, Connah’s Quay where developer David Wilson Homes North West is proposing to build 137 properties.

Developers say the protected creatures have not delayed the development, but work has been undertaken to protect them.

Technical director Tony Sutton said: “The area is well known throughout the local community and has been earmarked as a nature conservation area, so we wanted to ensure that it remained an undisturbed area of local interest.

“The newts are also protected under European law, so before work could begin on this neighbourhood site of special interest, we had to make sure they were adequately protected and apply for a licence from the Welsh Assembly Government.

“We have worked closely with The Countryside Council for Wales to provide a suitable habitat for the newts and ensure the long-term survival of the habitat.”

A new habitat has been created for the newts ahead of the construction work.

CCW regional species officer Matthew Ellis said: “The Connah’s Quay project has been both interesting and challenging.

“The new habitat should provide a more secure future for the newts on a formerly agricultural site. Monitoring of schemes like this to date have shown no detrimental effect on the great crested newt population demonstrating that ecological mitigation can be successfully integrated within development, given the right circumstances.

“This is a great example of how wildlife can be protected alongside development.
“The monitoring at Connah’s Quay is really encouraging – the great crested newts seem to be thriving in the newly created habitats.”

The planning application is currently under consideration by Flintshire Council.

Flintshire planners opted to defer the application earlier this year after a row broke out over the number of affordable properties incorporated into the plans.

Fears were also raised about increased traffic and sewerage problems.