Great Crested Newt Surveys

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Great Crested Newt Surveys

Unfortunately, the great crested newt is the most threatened species of newt in the UK and has significantly declined over the latter part of the 20th century. The results of agricultural intensification and loss, degradation and fragmentation of their habitats have severely impacted them, and it is therefore important to carry out thorough newt surveys before developing in their habitat.

The great crested newt is the largest native species of newt in the UK and mainly occurs in lowland regions. This is due to their need for both aquatic and terrestrial habitat in close proximity. They occur more frequently in clusters of small- to medium-sized ponds (50-250m²) and commonly obtain at least one breeding pond.

Great Crested Newt Survey Legislation

Great crested newts are protected under UK and European Union (“EU”) laws, including:

  • Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010
  • Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000

Under these legislations great crested newts are protected from:

  • Capturing, killing, injuring and disturbing;
  • Taking or destroying eggs;
  • Damaging or destroying breeding/resting places;
  • Obstructing access to resting places; and
  • Possessing, advertising for sale, selling or transporting for sale, live or dead (part or derivative).

What We Offer

No matter what kind of development proposal you may have, it is essential to review the potential impact on local biodiversity. Local Planning Authorities (“LPA”) require sufficient information to make informed decisions that wildlife can be protected from injury or disturbance during the development.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (“PEA”) will often be required and if great crested newts are present on a site for development, it is likely that a European protected species (“EPS”) license will also be needed. Additional surveys and mitigation methods may be necessary in order to proceed with the works.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (“PEA”)

Preliminary Ecological Appraisals are initial assessments that can be conducted at any time of the year. Greenlight will conduct a site visit and a desktop assessment which are used to identify habitats present on site that may support protected species. As the first step to addressing ecological aspects of a planning application, it will recommend if further great crested newt surveys, mitigation strategies and enhancements are necessary.

Habitat Suitability Index (“HSI”)

This index allows our surveyors to evaluate the general likelihood of a pond to be occupied by great crested newts. It uses ten suitability indices which are factors acknowledged to affect great crested newts and can be calculated at any time of the year, however the period between May and late-September is most suitable.

eDNA Sampling

eDNA sampling and surveys consist of collecting water samples from a pond for further laboratory analysis to accumulate a quick presence/absence result for great crested newts. They can have a better rate of detection compared to conventional surveys, but water samples can only be collected between 15th April to 30th June. Please note, if eDNA sampling returns a positive result, population estimate surveys will be required.

Presence/Absence Newt Surveys

When suitable great crested newt water features are found within or near a site for development, surveys may be conducted to determine the presence or likely absence of the species. Between mid-March and mid-June, we would conduct four survey visits in suitable weather conditions using three different survey methods; these are commonly torch survey, bottle trapping and egg searching.

Population Estimates

If great crested newts are present within a water feature, a minimum of six survey visits should be undertaken in suitable weather conditions between mid-March and mid-June. By using bottle trapping and torching survey methods, our surveyors would be able to estimate whether the great crested newt population is small, medium or large, and advise on appropriate mitigation.

European Protected Species (“EPS”) Mitigation Licences

A mitigation licence will need to be granted by Natural England in order to proceed with any works that are expected to have an impact on great crested newts. The licence should include sufficient information on the presence of the great crested newt population on or near the site (survey results), and appropriate mitigation measures.

District Level Licensing (DLL)

District level licensing consists of calculating a mitigation fee based on either survey data or the zone the site falls withing (green, amber, red). Pricing depends on where the site is located and once the mitigation fee has been provided, license certificate is signed/dated and submitted with a planning application. The Greenlight team can assist you with your application through Natural England or NatureSpace, depending on your project.

Translocation Works

Translocation works include capturing any great crested newts on site using amphibian proof drift fencing and pitfall traps. We would them move them from the site, less than 1km away, to a safe receptor area with equivalent or better habitats. The size of the impacted great crested newt population determines the amount of capture effort needed to clear an area. This can only be done under a mitigation licence granted by Natural England and should only be used as a last resort.

Installation & Removal of Mitigation Fencing

Amphibian-proof fencing is used to seal the perimeter of a site for development in order to help capture great crested newts within the site and to avoid re-colonisation. We can both install and remove this mitigation fencing, as necessary.

Overseeing Works

Overseeing works consists of a watching brief during construction, plus toolbox talks, to avoid killing or injuring individual newts. The hand search and destructive search are to only be conducted after a capture program and aim to find remaining newts that may be difficult to detect under shelters. To read more about how we can provide construction report click here.

Mitigation & Enhancements

Our mitigation strategies and enhancement designs are tailored to specifically address issues raised at the site in question and which protected species are identified. Some examples for great crested newts are:

  • Installation of amphibian fencing;
  • Translocation of individual great created newts;
  • Creation of artificial ponds, hibernacula and grasslands;
  • Pond restoration;
  • Planting of hedgerows.

Greenlight Environmental Great Crested Newt Surveys

Our great crested newt surveys are comprehensive and reliable, with a quick turnaround in order to get your development project up and running as soon as possible. Our dependable surveyors can work with you all throughout your project to ensure everything runs smoothly and seamlessly.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team today.