Great crested newts are legally protected under both the Wildlife and Coutryside Act and the Habitats Regulations and it is an offence to kill, capture, or disturb them, or to damage or destroy their breeding ponds or terrestrial habitats (as newts spend a proportion of their life cycle in each).

Our  ecologists hold the necessary licences for undertaking great crested newt surveys and developing appropriate mitigation. Our clients receive a bespoke approach to each of their projects to ensure their development needs are met.

Initial Assessment

A habitat assessment by DWS will determine the likelihood of great crested newts being present and how they will be affected by the proposed project.

Further Survey Work

Due to the level of protection afforded to this species all breeding sites and ponds within 500m of the site boundary should be surveyed and all survey techniques must be carried out by a licensed individual. As newts are largely nocturnal and hibernate, surveys are best carried out at night and during the breeding season.

Surveys to define the presence or absence of GCN’s will require four visits, or six visits to define population size. A combination of the following survey techniques can be used on each occasion:

  • Egg search- Eggs of GCN are larger than other newt species and are laid in a neatly folded arrangement on the leaves of submerged plants.
  • Torching- High powered torches are used to shine into the pond at night when newts are most active.
  • Netting- A large handled dip net is used to search for newts.
  • Bottle trapping- Plastic bottles are submerged in the water at dusk and checked and removed the following morning.
  • Terrestrial search- Refugia such as logs, rubble and wood are carefully inspected underneath and then replaced during the daytime and outside of the breeding season.

A lengthy licence application process requires an accompanying ‘method statement’ describing how the population will be conserved post-development.

Licence Application and mitigation

Once planning permission has been approved a licence application can be made to Natural England, once the application has been processed it can take up to one month to receive a response. The application requires a mitigation ‘method statement’ describing how great crested newts will be conserved on site after development. Mitigation can involve barrier-fencing part or all of a development site, trapping and transporting animals to nearby pre-prepared receptor sites and creating new habitat (e.g. ponds).

Survey Timings

Pond surveys are seasonally constrained to the period mid-March to mid-June, when adults are in breeding ponds. Outside of this season terrestrial surveys using drift fencing and pitfall traps can be used to establish presence of animals in terrestrial habitat, excluding November to March.

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