Good 'newt-s' for Boris Johnson as council allows former PM to build pool on Oxfordshire property

28 September 2023, 15:11 | Updated: 28 September 2023, 15:27

The former prime minister has promised his swimming pool will be a "Newtopia".
The former prime minister promised his swimming pool will be a "Newtopia". Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Boris Johnson has been given the green light to build a pool as long as he mitigates risk to protect the endangered amphibian.

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Permission has been granted to Boris Johnson by the South Oxfordshire District Council to finally build his pool as long as the ex-PM reduces risks the development may pose to nearby newts.

A planning application was put forward in June with South Oxfordshire District Council for the installation of a new 11-by-four-metre swimming pool on the grounds.

The initial plans were questioned in July when local government ecologist, Edward Church, objected due to the number of newts living on Mr Johnson’s estate.

Mr Johnson has been granted permission to build a pool on his Oxfordshire property.
Mr Johnson has been granted permission to build a pool on his Oxfordshire property. Picture: Alamy

The specific newts in the village, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, are the great crested variety, a protected species under British law.

These dark brown and 'warty' newts are the largest of the UK's three native species, larger than their smooth counterparts, and can grow up to 17cm in length.

The endangered amphibian had been part of the former prime minister’s frustrations when he complained that “newt counting” was halting housebuilding.

Read more: Boris Johnson’s pool plans for £3.8m Manor House threatened by newts after ex-PM’s past fury over the amphibians

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In one Daily Mail column, Mr Johnson described his commitment to the preservation of the newts.

He wrote: “If we have to build little newt motels to house them in their trips past the swimming pool, then we will.

“If we have to create whole newt-friendly bunds to stop them falling in, we will.

“We will excavate new ponds in which they can breed. We will make a Newtopia!”

The great crested newt is a protected species.
The great crested newt is a protected species. Picture: Alamy

Moves have also been made to make an orchard to compensate for any potential impact on biodiversity.

Natural England has drawn up rules, which require planning applications to demonstrate there is no risk to the great crested newt.

Alternatively, planning applications have to prove they have considered appropriate levels of mitigation and compensation.