RARE amphibians are to be given their own road underpass in North Lanarkshire to ensure that they can continue to breed safely.
The move comes after ecology experts raised fears that the creatures, including the protected great crested newt, could be at risk from traffic as they moved to near by ponds to mate.
The proposed underpass is to be built in Glenboig as part of the plans for more than 1,000 new homes area.
Banks Property, who are heading up the construction work, called in experts from Heritage Environment Ltd to carry out a study when they purchased the land in East Dunbartonshire.
Gartcosh Local Nature Reserve, which is adjacent to the development area, supports one of Scotland’s largest populations and is therefore of particular importance for the species. It is owned and managed by North Lanarkshire Council.
Mark Bates, director of Ecology at Heritage Environment Ltd, said: “These newts, like other amphibians, spend most of their life cycle out of water in a number of terrestrial habitats but breed in pools and ponds.
“As our study identified that a small proportion of the Nature Reserve’s newts would have to cross the proposed new road to enter these ponds one of our key recommendations is the creation of an underpass to prevent them being killed.
“We’ll be providing the Glenboig Consortium with a range of recommendations to ensure the proposed new road has negligible effects on the newt population”.
“With regards to the wider proposed development, we will also be providing designs of newt movement corridors to be incorporated into the layout. The corridors will include a range of newly created wetland and terrestrial habitats.
“These measures will allow the newts access to the wider countryside and potentially establish new populations within Lanarkshire.”
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Property, said: “Throughout this process we have listened to extensive feedback and shaped plans that are the best possible fit for the setting and sympathetic to the local environment
“So we are extremely pleased the ecology experts have come up with a range of practical solutions to safeguard such an important pocket of rare wildlife, including underpasses and newt corridors.
“What is particularly pleasing is the possibility that the changes proposed could actually encourage the Great Crested Newts to thrive in other parts of North Lanarkshire.”
Last week a building firm in Milton Keynes had to spend more than £1m catching more than 150 great crested newts as they had to relocate them from the land they purchased.
The project to build 6,500 homes, four schools and a village centre at the site was held up for more than a year as work to move the amphibians was completed.