Newt check for Ed Sheeran's UK estate

Ed Sheeran has commissioned experts to check for great crested newts around his English estate.
Ed Sheeran has commissioned experts to check for great crested newts around his English estate.

Ed Sheeran has commissioned experts to check for great crested newts around his UK estate where he plans to build a private chapel.

The 27-year-old English singer-songwriter, who announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Cherry Seaborn in January, has submitted a planning application for the Saxon-style structure to Suffolk Coastal District Council.

But a string of concerns have been raised, including from Suffolk Wildlife Trust which said there were records of great crested newts in the area in 2015 and it is possible that ponds within the site boundaries "could be breeding sites for this species".

Great crested newts, Britain's largest newt species, have declined over recent years and are now legally protected.

It is illegal to disturb the animals or obstruct access to areas where they live and breed, with the protected area extending up to 500m from their breeding ponds, the wildlife trust said.

Paul Smith, of Apex Planning Consultants, said: "The applicant has responded promptly to this matter and has also commissioned an appropriate survey that will identify the presence of great crested newts or otherwise, propose mitigation measures as appropriate and recommend measures to enhance biodiversity."

The proposed flint chapel would hold a congregation of around 24 people.

The application states there is a need for the chapel as "it is every person's right to be able to have a place of retreat for contemplation and prayer, for religious observance, celebration of key life and family milestones, marriages, christenings and so forth".

A wedding licence would be needed if Sheeran planned to marry there.

An expected decision date on the application is not available, the council's website said.

Australian Associated Press