Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newts
Great crested newts (GCN) and their habitats are fully protected by the Conservation of Habitats & Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Implications for Development
Any site within 500m of suitably connected water-bodies may be used by GCN during their terrestrial phase. A daytime habitat assessment of these water-bodies may be all that is needed to rule out GCN a constraint to development; however, if suitable water-bodies and terrestrial habitat are found, presence/absence surveys may be required.
GCN have a narrow survey window, so missing this can delay projects by up to a year. There are two survey methods for GCN. We can advise the most suitable and cost-effective method for your project. These survey methods include:
Environmental-DNA surveys (e-DNA)
e-DNA: is possible between 15th April and 30th June. It involves a daytime visit by a licensed ecologist who will take water samples from the pond. The samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The lab will either confirm a positive or negative result for GCN. No further surveys are required if a negative result is returned, with potentially large time and cost savings to be made. If, however, a positive result for GCN is returned, six traditional surveys will be required to determine the population size (described below).
Traditional surveys: involve use of bottle trapping, night-time torchlight surveys and egg searches. Four to six visits between mid-March and mid-June are needed. Half of the visits must be between mid-April and mid-May. Four visits can be used in lieu of e-DNA to assess presence/absence, and six visits will be required where GCN presence has been identified to estimate the population size.
Mitigation & Compensation
A Mitigation Licence from Natural England is required before there are any impacts to GCN or their water-based or terrestrial habitat. Any breeding ponds lost to the development will need to be replaced before translocation of newts to a suitable habitat, with ecological connectivity to suitable terrestrial habitat and other off-site ponds. Mitigation often involves exclusion fencing and trapping/translocation of newts for at least 30 days.