Campaign launched to help safeguard the future of Great Crested Newts in Harborough's Welland Valley

They are launching an appeal to generate £20,000 to fund an extensive survey of the protected amphibians and their vital local habitats

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:57 am
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:58 am
Campaigners are battling to generate £20,000 to help safeguard the future of Great Crested Newts in the stunning Welland Valley.

Campaigners are battling to generate £20,000 to help safeguard the future of Great Crested Newts in the stunning Welland Valley.

They are launching an appeal to fund an extensive survey of the protected amphibians and their vital local habitats.

The huge effort is getting off the ground after a villager in Middleton, near Market Harborough, photographed a newt happily sitting on their back doorstep during the mini-heatwave last month.

“As the photos circulated around social media, many villagers weren’t surprised as they been aware of the presence of these magnificent creatures for many years,” said Middleton Residents Action Group.

“Parts of the Welland Valley are classed as a ‘Red Zone’ for Great Crested Newts.

“But despite registered sightings, there is very little data available on the size and health of the local population,” said villagers.

“As a result of this recent sighting, we have decided to rectify this lack of information by starting up an appeal to commission a comprehensive ecology survey.”

The Great Crested Newt is an endangered and listed protected priority species in the UK.

“It is our largest newt and we love it.

“They breed in ponds during the spring and spend the rest of the year feeding on invertebrates in hedgerows, marshes and grasslands.

“It needs the right habitat to survive and thrive.

“But these habitats are increasingly under threat through development and climate change.

“One of the reasons for this threat is the lack of data on the newt population in areas they are known to inhabit,” said the Residents Action Group.

“Without clear evidence, habitats can become vulnerable to development and activities which can disturb breeding and remove the environment the newts need to survive.”

The proposed in-depth study will try to pinpoint and log the population of a 1km-stretch of the Welland Valley, between Ashley and Middleton.

“The area has numerous ponds, ancient fields and hedgerows.

“The best time to survey the ponds where the newts breed is from spring to early summer.

“The survey will be undertaken by an accredited ecologist and involves detailed surveying and monitoring of several ponds,” said the group.

“Apart from providing invaluable data on Great Crested Newts, the survey will also record any evidence found on other important species.

“They will include otters, badgers, bats and protected birds.

“The survey will establish a definitive baseline for Great Crested Newts here – and will help protect this critical habitat.”

Villagers are setting out to raise £20,000 to carry out the exhaustive investigation – and help protect newts as well as other wildlife and the countryside.

If you would like to donate please visit https://gofund.me/6eabbce6And to find out more you can email the fundraising team at [email protected]