Great crested newt Surveys
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 Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) Risk Assessment
The Habitat Suitability Index is a survey format that is used to assess waterbodies for presence of great crested newts. The survey format enables an effective assessment of ponds for breeding great crested newts. Whilst it is not infallible it can allow surveyors to more effectively target breeding surveys. HSI surveys focus particularly on the aquatic vegetation and invertebrate groupings within a pond and this factor limits the effective time period for surveys. Surveys can be conducted from March to October with the most effective period between April and June.
Great Crested Newt Aquatic Surveys
An aquatic great crested newt survey requires four visits that are undertaken by at least two surveyors, including a Natural England license holder. Two additional visits are needed to evaluate the population size when great crested newts are confirmed to be within the surveyed area.
Great Crested Newt Terrestrial Surveys
Terrestrial surveys for GCN can be carried out, however these are generally complex and as a result would have to dealt with on a site by site basis.
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.