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Great crested newt Surveys

We offer a full range of great crested newt surveys, and have substantial project experience of sucessfully delivering projects for a wide variety of clients.

Great crested newts are amphibians. They live out of the water for most of the year, and return to ponds and other waterbodies during their breeding season. Great Crested Newts live within woodland, hedgerows, scrub and rough grassland which is suitable foraging habitat for them when they are on land. They also need areas of adequate cover for refuge and hibernation. The population of great crested newts is threatened in many European countries. The UK population is one of the largest, however it has suffered a decline in recent years.

Great Crested Newt Legislation

In England, Wales and Scotland, great crested newts are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), and under equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland. It is also a European Protected Species and as such it has additional protection in the UK under Regulation 41 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take a great crested newt, possess or control any live or dead specimen or anything derived from a great crested newt, intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection by a great crested newt (in practice this means both its breeding sites, and its terrestrial habitat). It also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a great crested newt while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose.

Great Crested Newt Seasonal Constraints

Great Crested Newt surveys are undertaken during the breeding season which runs from March to June. Please click below to view our great crested newt survey and mitigation calendar.

Great Crested Newt Survey and Mitigation Calendar

Great Crested Newt Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) Risk Assessment

The Habitat Suitability Index is an initial survey method that is used to assess the potential for great crested newts to be present in a pond. The survey format enables an effective assessment of the suitability of the pond for breeding great crested newts, based on ten suitability indices, such as water quality and pond size. Whilst it is not infallible, where there are a large number of ponds it can help target those needing further eDNA or pond surveys. HSI surveys can generally be conducted all year, with the optimum period from March to October.

Great Crested Newt eDNA

Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is a new method for species monitoring in water bodies. Natural England has now approved this method for the determination of great crested newt presence or absence within a pond. eDNA analysis gives a quick GCN presence/absence result from a water sample. We can collect the samples using the required protocol and use a specially chosen accredited laboratory for the analysis. The samples can only be taken when great crested newts are likely to be present within the ponds, between 15th April and 30th June.

eDNA surveys are ideally suited to finding out if newts are present or absence from a pond, and hence whether it is necessary to conduct a population size class survey on the ponds.

Presnce/ Absence Great Crested Newt Pond Surveys

Great crested newt pond surveys can be used as the traditional alternative to eDNA analysis, which requires four survey visits to the pond by Natural England license holder, using a variety of survey methods including bottle trapping and egg searching. If great crested newts are identified as present, either following four survey visits or if confirmed by the results of a eDNA analysis, two additional visits are then needed to estimate the population size.

Great Crested Newt Mitigation

Any project where great crested newts are found will require a suitable mitigation plan to avoid any adverse affects of the population. Depending on the level of impact of the proposed works this may vary from a simple method statement to a full Natural England Licence. Mitigation could include the setting of a newt exclusion fence around the site, where pit-fall trapping could be undertaken and newts relocated to a suitable place outside of the working area. Habitat enhancements would also be part of the on-site mitigation for great crested newts and should be included in the landscaping proposals.

Call us on 01256 892 640 for a friendly chat about your project