Judges allow newts to stay at Duke's quarry

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The Independent Online

Plans to shift a colony of newts to allow work to take place at a quarry owned by Britain's richest man, the Duke of Westminster, have been blocked by the Court of Appeal.

Plans to shift a colony of newts to allow work to take place at a quarry owned by Britain's richest man, the Duke of Westminster, have been blocked by the Court of Appeal.

Trustees for the Duke want to reopen a quarry at Halkyn Common near Holywell in Flintshire and start mining limestone. But water has built up in the old workings at Pen-yr-Henblas and now provide a home for around 200 great crested newts, a species protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and the European Habitats Directive. Destroying the newts or their habitat is a criminal offence.

The Duke's trustees applied to the Welsh Assembly for a licence to relocate the newts but were refused. A High Court judge overturned that decision, but yesterday three judges allowed an appeal by the Assembly, which had ruled that the need to move the newts was not an "overriding public interest" and the trustees had not proved there was a need for the limestone.

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