Bolton: six underground chambers for amphibians and 10 new ponds to be built

Ten artificial ponds and six underground amphibian shelters are to be built to create an ecological zone as part of the work to create a massive job park.

Plans have been submitted for the ‘ecological improvement area’ on land west of the Wingates Industrial Estate in Wesoughton.

The work would be part of an expansion of an industrial zone on green land that promises up to 1,500 new jobs.

Developers Harworth Group plc have already secured planning approval for the development of up to 1.1m² of logistics and manufacturing space on the site.

Plans submitted this week would involve the construction of 10 ponds and six amphibian hibernacula.

Hibernacula are underground chambers that amphibians and reptiles use during the winter to protect themselves from the cold.

The shelters would provide refuge for amphibians and reptiles such as frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes.

The documents in support of the application stated: “In this case, the construction of ponds and hibernacula is considered to constitute a change of use of the land.

“At this point, previous agricultural and grazing use of the land will cease and it will only be used as prescribed for ecological improvement within the approved development.”

The Wingates site is close to junction 6 of the M61 and the existing northern logistics site of Harworth.

In addition to 1.1m² of commercial space, the Wingates development will bring improvements to road, drainage and utility infrastructure, including a new access road.

Harworth has previously said boundary landscaping and the ecological improvement area are part of their commitment to promote green spaces and protect biodiversity.

The project received planning permission from Bolton Council in January 2020, but the application was later appealed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Planning permission by the Minister was granted in June 2021 after a public inquiry.

Speaking at the time of approval, Lynda Shillaw, Managing Director of Harworth, said: “Securing the planning for our Wingates development marks a significant milestone for us and will have a substantial positive effect on the local economy in terms of construction, permanent jobs and investment.

“This will allow businesses in Bolton to grow, while improving road infrastructure and protecting local biodiversity and green spaces.

The ecological zone plans will now be reviewed by council.

Bonny J. Streater