Protected Species Survey: Great crested newts
Great crested newt, Karl Charters
Great crested newt are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
During a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) our licenced ecologists will undertake a Habitat Suitability Index assessment on all accessible ponds within 250m of the proposed development boundary, that are not beyond a barrier to dispersal. This Index assesses the suitability of a pond to support breeding great crested newt, but cannot be used to determine whether newts are present or absent. Ponds considered suitable for supporting breeding great crested newt may then require a presence or likely absence survey.
There are two methods for undertaking presence/likely absence surveys for great crested newt.
Aquatic surveys involve four visits to a pond between March and June, in the evening and early morning. Methods including egg searching, bottle trapping, torching and netting to determine whether newts are present.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing involves sampling the water body for the presence of great crested newt DNA. Sampling can be carried out between mid-April and the end of June.
If great crested newt are present, further aquatic surveys may be required to assess population size.
All surveys are undertaken by suitably experienced surveyors.
Once surveys are complete a full impact assessment of the proposed development on great crested newt is made and an appropriate mitigation strategy devised. This may involve working under a Method Statement to prevent disturbance or destruction of habitat, or where this is unavoidable a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL).