Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 15:58 UK

Rare newts worry over gypsy camp

A great crested newt (picture: Science Photo Library)
The great crested newt is a protected species

A wildlife group has joined a row over a decision by Powys council to site a temporary gypsy camp in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Brecknock Wildlife Trust said the planned camp near Brecon was close to a sensitive location which was home to some protected great crested newts.

Last week, the national park authority accused the council of a "flagrant disregard of planning policy".

Powys council has been asked to comment about the latest developments.

A permanent gypsy camp is planned in Llanfilo near Brecon, but the council wants to locate 12 caravans at a small holding in Cefn Cantref until that is ready.

But the park authority has warned that it may take legal action over the temporary site.

'Sensitive location'

The council said last week that it would apply to the park for retrospective planning permission.

Since then, Brecknock Wildlife Trust has joined the debate.

It said the proposed camp was 250m away from an area where great crested newts were found, and warned the development could endanger them.

"Undertaking development in such a sensitive location requires a well thought out approach," said Rachel Sharp, chief executive of the trust.

"The ecology of great crested newts and the legal process of assessing the effect of development on this species is not something that can be rushed through.

"We are disappointed that the council does not recognise this and hope that it is not putting itself into a difficult legal position."

At the moment the family of gypsies live in a lorry and coach park in Brecon, having recently moved from a lay-by in nearby Libanus.

Powys council said last week it had agreed in principle to create a permanent site for the family at Llanfilo, and a report about the project was expected to go before councillors in September.

In the meantime, the council said the lorry and coach park was not suitable and it had decided to move the family to Cefn Cantref temporarily.

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