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Controversial Law Could Remake English Countryside — And Not in a Good Way

A new biodiversity law in England will allow developers to replace the habitats they destroy with entirely different ones.  

A wetland area in Oxfordshire, UK.

A wetland area in Oxfordshire, UK.

Photographer: Tim Graham/Getty Images

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Peter Gantlett was out in the fields when he heard the phone ring. It’s the second strange call his family-run organic farm in southwest England has received recently, pitching the same thing: newt ponds.

Ponds for great crested newts — an endangered species threatened by housing and infrastructure development — have been popping up across the country over the past year as the government rolls out programs to protect them. Environmental service providers, like the ones who have been contacting Peter, broker deals to create new habitats for these creatures on private land.