Thousands of Thurrock animals being rehoused in national logistics hub push. Newt-fancier, Ken Livingstone, not invited.

With mortgage approvals down about 57% year-on-year, a story about 50,000 new homes being completed in Thurrock is good news indeed. But before Taylor Wimpey shareholders get too excited, they should know that the homes in question are ponds and the residents are going to be great crested newts.

In fact, the great re-housing of wildlife in South Essex comes because “the world’s most advanced container port” is being built on their former home. Developer, London Gateway, a has hired a team of 25 ecologists to serve the biodiversity-friendly eviction notice on the adders, water voles, grass snakes and lizards

£50m has been spent on moving the animals including the purchase of 23,000 mats over the 78 hectare site under which reptiles can crawl before being moved to 24 ponds. 25 ecologists are involved in making way for the £1.5bn port and Europe’s largest logistics park.

Marcus Pearson, London Gateway environmental manager said the organisation was “committed” to protecting wildlife.

“We take any environmental impacts of the project very seriously which is why we have made such a large investment,” he said. “We firmly believe that this investment represents a world class environmental management programme.” The ecologist-led exodus is expected to continue for 10 to 15 years.

As well as the creation of 53 hectares of land for Great Crested Newts, the programme will also see new mudflats created for wading birds.

Darren Tansley, Water for Wildlife Officer at Essex Wildlife Trust, said called the programme 'challenging': "Translocations on this scale are extremely rare and present real challenges to conservationists and developers alike," he said. "Essex Wildlife Trust is keen to see as much of the biodiversity of the site retained within Thurrock and Essex and so are working with DP World to investigate any opportunities for the creation or enhancement of suitable local habitat and linking wildlife corridors. We have been encouraged by the positive response to our initial proposals and hope to develop this partnership for the benefit of both people and wildlife over the life of the project.”

The developer says that London Gateway will be the most fully automated and efficient port in the world.