Redrow chief John Tutte has hit out at environmental rules, saying they slow up work on new homes.
Tutte explained that companies such as Redrow are often required to fit work in around the requirements of different species, which leaves them with “a very small window” in which to begin construction work.
The head of the Flintshire based company explained: “If you get planning permission you will not be able to start on site if you have ecology issues because of hibernation seasons.
“One particular site [near Cheltenham] had dormice, so that meant we can’t start on the site until spring next year, but then the issue is you have the bird nesting season. So there’s a very small window of trying to start work on a site.”
Mr Tutte also criticised EU legislation which protects the great crested newt, a species which has seen a dramatic decline in the UK in recent decades due to the loss of habitat and pesticide pollution – and conservationists say that decline is continuing.
Numbers are even lower in continental Europe making the UK population even more important in conservation terms.
However, Mr Tutte said: “The UK has the largest colonies of great crested newts in the whole of Europe. We haven’t got a shortage, there’s no threat to great crested newts in the UK, but it’s European legislation.”
Destroying great crested newt habitat can lead to a fine or imprisonment. Developers are required to comply with laws protecting newts when they seek planning permission. They may have to halt work on a site if a pond inhabited by newts is discovered.
Changes to the rules introduced last year by Natural England allow housebuilders to remove newts to another colony away from the site.
But Mr Tutte added, this depends on the time of the year.
“You can’t collect and transport the newts to new sites if the temperature is below 5 degrees. So it writes off the winter for being able to do those works on the site,” he said.