MEASURES to protect great crested newts hit a police force in the pocket by £134,000.
Durham Constabulary had to fork out £34,000 in extra costs and was hit for another £100,000 in lost savings when amphibians were found living near its new base at Aykley Heads in Durham.
Natural England, which looks after wildlife, allowed a licence for the new headquarters, which will replace its 45-year-old buildings on a neighbouring plot, but only if measures were in place to stop the newts from getting into the building site.
The new building still will be cheaper to run than the old HQ, which is to be sold off for exclusive housing on the northern edge of Durham, saving the force £700,000 a year in maintenance costs and replacing a complex which is no longer deemed fit for purpose.
But the delays to its completion have meant the force lost out on potential six-figure savings.
The force’s head of estates, Michelle March, said: “Great crested newts are a protected species and the mitigation measures we were required to put in place cost just under £34,000, payable to Kier as our contractor.
“Any delays in a major project such as this will have knock-on effects, as they hold up the move from one building to another and the estimated savings on running costs.
“However, other than the work required to protect the newts, there have been no additional direct costs paid by the force.”
The new building has been topped out and will be ready for use by next summer for 600 staff, with the three-storey building to include a communications centre and open plan offices set around a central atrium.
Meanwhile, the former MetroMail building in the South West Industrial Estate in Peterlee will house a further 123 workers once it is converted.