Great Crested Newts: A Brief Life History
Newts are classified as amphibians as they live in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. The Great Crested Newt is the largest newt species in Great Britain, and can be found in ponds and wetlands throughout the country, although it is far less common in Northern Scotland, west Wales and south-west England. Great Crested Newts can be found in an urban, suburban or rural setting, living in or close to water. They are nocturnal and spend a large part of the year living on land, typically in vegetation or under rocks and logs situated within half a kilometer from a pond that serves as their breeding habitat, although some may venture further away. They return to their pond to lay their eggs in the breeding season — between mid-March and mid-June.
Current Status and Why They’re Protected
Population numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, largely due to habitat loss (ponds and wetlands) and habitat fragmentation. The Great Crested Newt is listed as a species of principle importance in England under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, and is afforded legal protection through the Wildlife and Countryside Act (Schedule 5) and the Conservation of Species and Habitat Regulations (Schedule 2) due to their rapid decline within the last century.
As a protected species, it is an offence to deliberately disturb, capture, injure or kill Great Crested Newts. It is also illegal to damage or destroy any habitat where newts seek shelter and refuge. Only a licensed ecologist (with the necessary permits) undertaking a survey or mitigation strategy may disturb, capture and handle them.
How Our Newt Surveys Work
The above legislation offers legal protection to Great Crested Newts as well as their habitat. Consequently, any proposed development will first need to determine whether or not there are Great Crested Newts living within the development site or in close proximity to it.
We can assist by sending a licensed ecologist to conduct a Great Crested Newt survey of your site. This will involve identifying any ponds or other aquatic habitats that could potentially be inhabited by Great Crested Newts, followed by a survey to determine if there are Great Crested Newts present onsite or within half a kilometre of the site.
Great Crested Newt surveys are seasonally limited to the breeding season (mid-March — mid-June), when newts are active in their ponds.
What Happens if Great Crested Newts are Present on Your Site
Should Great Crested Newts occur on or near your site, your development will require mitigation and an EPS license before approval will be granted. We are here to assist you with the process. We will determine the size of the populations and formulate a mitigation strategy to reduce the impact of building operations in an effort to conserve these populations so that you can not only get approval, but can go ahead with your project knowing that you have taken the necessary measures to conserve one of Britain’s endangered species.