Great crested newts stall Cavers Castle renovations

Newt with a large head

Great crested newts have prevented plans for restoring a roofless, crumbling castle in the Scottish Borders.

A decision regarding a request to bring it back into use has been postponed due to the presence of the protected species in a pond at Cavers Castle, close to Hawick.

It was advised that the planning committee of the council approve the site's application.

It put off making a choice about how to get a "handle on the full population" of newts in the pond, though.

Cavers Castle
In the 1950s, explosives were used to destroy the castle.

It is thought that some components of Cavers Castle, also known as Cavers House, date to the 15th or 16th centuries.

Around 1750, the building underwent a significant expansion, which was followed by a "massive redesign and remodel" in the late 19th century.

The property's contents were auctioned off and much of it was destroyed by explosives in 1953 after one of the last owners died and no buyer could be found for it in 1949.

Its fate was discussed by the planning committee last month, but a decision was postponed until after a site visit.

The choice has now been postponed once more due to the discovery of the newts.

"After the last committee, we did receive an indication that there may be a European Protected Species within the pond at the south end of the site," SBC Principal Planning Officer Craig Miller told council members.

The applicant completed a pond survey after being asked to do so, and the results were given to the ecology officer to confirm that the species was present in the pond.

"We need to get a handle on the entire population," the researcher said. "The survey did not contain enough detail or land searches to ascertain how many of the protected species were using the site.".

Cavers House
The decision regarding the plans to use the building again has been postponed.

Members decided to postpone making a final decision until a more thorough survey had been conducted.

Although it was stated that there was no guarantee the information would be accessible in time for the committee's August meeting, it is scheduled for that month.

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