Great crested newt surveys may be required if potentially suitable aquatic or terrestrial habitat exists within or near to a proposed development. The first step is to establish whether suitable habitat is present by conducting a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) Assessment.
What is a great crested newt?
Protected by a range of legislation and planning policies that may impact your development, great crested newts (GCN) are one of Britain’s most protected amphibians. They are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation 2017, as well as being a species of principal importance for conservation under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Why do I need to survey for great crested newts?
Development of land, including clearance, within 500m of a water body with the potential to support great crested newts, could result in killing or injuring individuals, and would constitute an offence under the law. Mitigation licences from Natural England are required for all works which impact upon individual great crested newts, their resting places (woodland, scrub and coarse grassland) and breeding sites (ponds and ditches).
If suitable habitat is found on your development site, further surveys will be carried out to confirm the presence or absence of great crested newts, and where present, to inform population estimates. We are currently trialling the use of environmental DNA (e-DNA) sampling techniques to detect the presence of great crested newts, a pioneering technique that will potentially reduce the amount of survey effort and associated costs.
Compliance with great crested newts survey and mitigation strategy legislation
Our great crested newt surveys and mitigation strategies are guided by best practice, including Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK) Advice Note 5, Natural England great crested newt mitigation guidelines and the Natural England Standing Advice. If populations cannot be retained in situ, our great crested newt specialists can carry out translocations and will provide guidance on minimising ecological risk. To allow works to proceed lawfully, we can apply for the development licences necessary, on your behalf.
Where suitable terrestrial or aquatic habitat is present, we can also conduct presence/absence surveys for natterjack toad. Our surveys are based on best practice guidelines including the Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT) survey protocol and Natural England Standing Advice.
To support and enhance your development, we will use our specialised knowledge to determine realistic and cost-effective mitigation and compensatory measures, ensuring compliance with applicable legislation and planning policy.