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Great Crested Newt

Great crested newts (GCN) are a European protected species; legislation protects individual newts, their eggs and their breeding sites and resting places.

Actions that would cause you to break the law include:

  • deliberately capturing, killing or disturbing any GCN;
  • taking their eggs;
  • damaging or destroying a breeding or resting place; or
  • obstructing access to their resting or sheltering places, deliberately or by not taking enough care.

This species is frequently encountered in development projects; although protected, the species is fairly widespread in the UK. Survey work can only be undertaken during the spring when the adults can be found breeding within waterbodies. When not breeding, newts are found as far as 500 metres from their breeding ponds.

Activities that can affect great crested newts include:

  • maintaining or restoring ponds, woodland, scrub or rough grassland;
  • restoring forest areas to lowland heaths;
  • ploughing close to breeding ponds or other bodies of water;
  • removing dense vegetation and disturbing the ground;
  • removing materials like dead wood piled on the ground;
  • excavating the ground, for example to renovate a building; and
  • filling in or destroying ponds or other waterbodies.

Our survey data is used to assess the impact of a development and to devise appropriate mitigation strategies. We have successfully assisted with securing planning consents where great crested newt are present and have obtained many Natural England licences for development works affecting GCN and their breeding and terrestrial habitat. Mitigation works undertaken include terrestrial and aquatic habitat creation, maintenance, and the management of numerous large-scale exclusion and translocation projects. Our ecologists hold Natural England great crested newt licences and are highly experienced in mitigation works and the supervision of habitat removal.

Great crested newt surveys

To establish presence or likely absence of GCN, four surveys are carried out between mid-March and mid-June. An additional two surveys are then needed if great crested newts are found to be present. See our survey timetable for details.

We are also able to offer environmental DNA (eDNA) testing where water samples can be tested for GCN gametes during the breeding season and thereby the presence or likely absence of GCN in that waterbody. If a water sample proves positive for GCN presence, further surveys may be required. However, if a water sample proves negative, additional GCN surveys can be avoided and costs significantly reduced. eDNA testing can only be carried out between 15th April and 30th June, therefore it is important to consider the impacts on GCN as early as possible in your project.


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