Great Crested Newt Surveys

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  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
  • © Arbeco Ltd.
Great Crested Newt Surveys
Netting a pond to survey for Great Crested Newt presence © Arbeco Ltd.

Background

The great crested newt (GCN), Triturus cristatus, is the largest newt species native to the UK. They spend much of their lives on land but migrate to waterbodies in the spring to breed. Larvae take four months to develop into young newts, at which point they leave the water and spend up to four years in suitable terrestrial habitat developing into mature adults.

Optimal terrestrial habitats for newts include rank grassland, woodland, scrub as well as built structures and other man-made features. Newts tend to use suitable habitats within 250m of their breeding ponds.

The GCN is protected under European and UK laws. It is an offence to intentionally capture, kill, injure, recklessly damage, destroy, disturb or obstruct access to places which GCN use for shelter. It is also an offence to damage or destroy a breeding or resting place, possess a GCN (unless acquired lawfully) and sell, barter, exchange, transport, or offer for sale GCN or parts of them.

Common Newt and Great Crested Newt
Common Newt and Great Crested Newt © Arbeco Ltd.

Survey

Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) surveys can be carried out any time of year and are used to determine the suitability of a site to support GCN and gives an indication of the likelihood of GCN being present. Aquatic surveys are carried out from mid-March to mid-June.

Survey techniques include netting, bottle trapping, torchlight surveys, egg searches and hand searches of terrestrial habitat. Repeat survey visits of all suitable and accessible water bodies within site and off site up to 500m away should be carried out (four to prove presence/absence, and six to assess population size if present), with at least 50% of repeat surveys completed between mid-April to mid-May when the newts are most likely to be in their breeding ponds.

Crested Newt in bottle
© Arbeco Ltd.

Mitigation

If GCN are confirmed as present on site, consideration should be given to redesigning the development to minimise any negative impacts on newts and their shelters. Redesigning will reduce timing delays and costs of mitigation.

Where this not feasible, mitigation measures will be developed and a European Protected Species license obtained from the relevant body (e.g. Natural England).

Mitigation would involve habitat creation, followed by the capture of the newts during the newt active season using pitfall traps, and subsequent relocation using amphibian proof drift fencing to stop the newts from entering back into the development boundary.

© Arbeco Ltd.

Protected Species


Ecology Consultancy