New Manchester airport runway halted by newts

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The Independent Online

Plans to extend the controversial new runway at Manchester airport are under threat from a newt. English Nature has called for the strongest legal protection available for the great crested newt, an internationally threatened amphibian that is thriving in two ponds by the runway.

To the fury of the airport's managers and local authorities, biologists at the group are to organise a major survey of the airport's newt population next year in an attempt to prove that up to 850 acres of land deserves designation as a special area of conservation by the European Commission.

If they succeed, the airport will be unable to extend the runway, build a parallel taxi-way or develop the surrounding countryside.

The airport is particularly irritated because 3,000 of the newts living around the ponds were put there by the airport in 1997-98 as part of a £17m environmental improvement programme introduced to overcome ecological objections to the new runway.