REDBRIDGE: Slow-worm saviours | East London and West Essex Guardian Series

Redbridge Council is set to welcome reptiles to Claybury Park to make up for their habitat being destroyed by a development in Essex.

Developer Nordor Holdings plans to build 161 new homes and more than 7,000 square feet of employment space at Churchill Road, Little Thurrock.

This will displace a small a population of slow-worms and common lizards that the Nordor Holdings has agreed to pay to have moved to Claybury Park.

This week, Redbridge’s cabinet agreed to go ahead with the scheme and sign a legal agreement, which will be negotiated by Mark Baigent, interim corporate director of regeneration and culture and deputy leader Cllr Kam Rai.

Mr Baigent told the overview and scrutiny committee the previous day the scheme is “really exciting”.

He added: “The reptiles and slow-worms… will be brought into Claybury Park, which is a habitat suitable to introduce them into in a carefully managed way over several years.”

The costs of the scheme will be covered by Nordor Holdings, with estimates starting at £17,000 over a five-year monitoring period.

Schemes such as this, known as biodiversity offsetting, will become a legal requirement when developments destroy natural habitats from 2023 onwards.

Claybury Park is described as an “ideal reptile habitat” by Tim Moya Associates, who prepared an ecological report on the scheme.

They added: “The western half of the park is dominated by ideal reptile habitats including a block of at least 15 hectares of mixed scrub and tussocky grassland.

“Translocation to sites within Thurrock would generally require either purchase and/or conversion of arable land into suitable reptile habitat, and an ongoing maintenance agreement to be adhered to in perpetuity by the private landowner.”

Councillor Beverly Brewer commented: “I note that Nordor Holdings is incorporated in Guernsey, given the recent public concern about tax avoidance, can the council carry out appropriate due diligence on its partners please?”

Mr Baigent said he would look into her concerns.

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