Rare protected newts have not stopped Ramside Hall plans

It's not often any of us are one step ahead of the boys in blue, but careful negotiation has enabled Ramside Hall to avoid an expensive problem recently encountered by Durham Police

The 15th hole - the signature hole at Ramside
The 15th hole - the signature hole at Ramside

It's not often any of us are one step ahead of the boys in blue, but careful negotiation has enabled Ramside Hall to avoid an expensive problem recently encountered by Durham Police.

This is why the presence of rare protected great-crested newts at Ramside has not stopped progress at its new £15m golf, hotel and leisure development scheduled to open next year.

The development will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Ramside Hall Hotel.

In February a relieved Durham constabulary welcomed a decision to give the go-ahead for the building of a new headquarters in Aykley Heads, just over four miles from Ramside.

Construction was delayed for months, at a cost of £250,000. Work stopped when a colony of the protected newts was found hundreds of yards away from the building site.

The rare amphibian is protected under UK and European law under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill or injure the species.

Natural England, the guardian of the country’s natural environment, were initially unconvinced by police analysis of the colony and at first refused a great crested newt development licence.

Ramside Estates Ltd, owners of three country hotels in County Durham, are building the only new golf course under construction in the north.

Rumours, fuelled by the police’s problems, have circulated around the North East golf scene that the Ramside development had been suspended because of the presence of greater crested newts at several sites on and around the golf course.

John Adamson, director of Ramside Estates Ltd, said: “There is no truth in the rumours at all.

An aerial view of Ramside Hall Hotel
An aerial view of Ramside Hall Hotel
 

“Quite the opposite, we are now seeding the tees, greens and fairways on the new course and have almost completed the shaping of the entire lay-out.

“We are looking forward to opening the best new golf course in Northern England in 2014 as part of a revamp of the hotel, golf club, leisure and conferencing facilities.” Ramside have been working with Natural England to preserve rare habitats for the greater crested newts.

Newt populations have been identified at several sites close to and bordering the existing golf course and are protected by boundary fencing following consultations and guidance. Adamson added: “The construction of the golf course is continuing well and has benefited from the recent good weather.

“The development is entirely sympathetic to the environment – including eco systems and wildlife habitats – close to and around the area in which it is being built.

“Our golf course architect, Jonathan Gaunt, is one of the leading experts in creating sustainable golf course developments that nurture and support the eco-systems and habitat of wildlife and bird life on site.”

The Cathedral Course will have a vastly re-designed 7,200 yard Championship lay-out, built on former farmland between Belmont and Pittington, with views down on to Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There will also be a health club, gymnasium, 25-metre swimming pool and spa with four hydrotherapy pools, 10 treatment rooms and six heat rooms.

Ramside are also building an Asian restaurant, a hair and beauty salon, 48 additional hotel bedrooms and 34 executive residential homes.

RAMSIDE are getting results on and off the course.

Their league team’s 8-6 win at Ravensworth on Tuesday means they have avoided relegation from Division 1 of the Maxim FM Services North Durham Union. Ramside had been promoted to the top flight twice before – for the 2001 and 2004 seasons – only to be immediately relegated to Division 2.

South Moor have retained the Division 1 title, with Boldon securing impressive back-to-back promotions to join the top flight elite, Wearside also going up from Division 2. South Shields and Beamish are promoted from Division 3.

The relegated clubs are Chester-le-Street and Crook (from Division 1) plus Hobson and Whickham (Division 2).

 

 

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer