Vistry Partnerships North East has provided nearly £60,000 to protect the Dingy Skipper butterfly, which is in severe decline and to enhance the natural woodland adjacent to a new Washington development.
As part of a project to construct 56 homes on the former Ayton School site – developed in partnership with planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore and Sunderland City Council – ecologists were appointed to conduct a survey of the site before work began.
And E3 Ecology Limited identified evidence of the butterfly – protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) – which has disappeared from 48% of UK habitats since then.
A fingertip search of a specific 20 square meter area revealed that butterfly larvae were hibernating inside the leaves of the grassland plants. So, a plan was hatched to carefully remove the turf and transport it to a specially prepared site, two miles away, alongside the Bowes Railway Local Wildlife Site, which will be monitored and managed for the next 20 years.
And as the much needed new, mixed-tenure homes take shape, the butterfly also appears to be enjoying its new environment, according to Sunderland City’s Principal Ecologist, Claire Dewson. However, she points out that due to the COVID 19 lockdown, full monitoring of the spring hatch and migration will have to wait until next year.
Mike Perkins, a Senior Ecologist with E3 Ecology, said:
Andrew Rennie, Development Director for Vistry Partnerships in the region, added:
Councillor Kevin Johnston, deputy cabinet member for housing and regeneration at Sunderland City Council, added: