Surveys for Great Crested Newts and other amphibians

Great crested newts and the ponds they breed in are protected by European and UK law so it is essential to understand if they are on your site and in what numbers. The newts spend much of the year on dry land going up to 500m from a pond so newts can still be an issue for development work even if a pond is not directly affected.

There is legal precedent (R vs Cornwall County Council) that where a European protected species may be using a site planning permission cannot be granted until all relevant information has been provided to the planning authority. This means that not doing surveys in time can mean delays of a year or more in getting permission.

Surveys have to follow guidelines published by English Nature in 2001 and can only be done by a licenced surveyor. The Director of Levan Ecology has been licenced to carry out great crested newt surveys in England and Wales since 2005.

Surveys require multiple visits to a pond, four to establish if great crested newts are present and another two to work out the population size. These surveys can only be done between mid March and mid June when the newts visit ponds to lay their eggs so it is important to plan surveys as early as possible.

The same survey methods can also detect other amphibians like frogs and toads, which are protected from killing or injury during site work and may be an issue in planning.

Where protected species are found on a site this doesn’t have to mean a block on development. There can be solutions – see protected species licencing and mitigation

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