Great Crested Newts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. Their presence in a development scenario can often present challenges in terms of the timing of work, but Ecology Solutions is able to advise on all aspects of the process from survey through to the completion of mitigation strategies in order to minimise effects on the delivery programme. In common with other amphibians, Great Crested Newts only return to ponds to breed, being present in the terrestrial environment for the rest of the year. The survey protocol is centred on the assessment of these breeding habitats. Once the presence of the species on or near to a site has been established, our experienced ecologists will be able to devise an appropriate mitigation solution, which may involve licensed works such as capture / translocation and habitat destruction. Being experienced in a wide range of circumstances, we can assess whether a non-licensed method statement approach may be more appropriate, a route that can reduce significantly the time taken before starting construction. We are also able to advise on District Licensing where applicable.
The survey season for Great Crested Newts runs from mid-March to mid-June. Traditional presence / absence and population size class surveys using torches and bottle traps may be undertaken during this time, with half of the survey effort required in the key period from mid-April to mid-May. Surveys for environmental DNA (eDNA), a more cost-effective approach to establishing presence / absence, are possible from mid-April to late June. Note that if presence is established by this method, in most cases Natural England will still require a full population size class assessment to support a licence application.