We get approached every year from customers looking for information about great crested newt surveys (GCN), especially after the main survey season has ended.
Great crested newts are fully protected under UK and European law. It is an offence to kill, capture or disturb them, or to damage or destroy their resting places. This protection extends to the habitats that support them, including areas within 500m of a ‘suitable’ pond.
Surveys for great crested newts are formed of two stages. The first stage, it is important to note, can be completed at any time of the year and includes an initial assessment of the habitat features present, such as a pond and the connection to the surrounding landscape, this is called a habitat suitability index or HSI assessment. Ponds present on a site are identified as having, or not, the potential to support newts. Those ponds that are deemed suitable are then surveyed at stage 2. This second stage includes various methods of survey, conducted in or around the pond to identify if newts are present. Stage 2 surveys can only be conducted between mid-March and mid-June, in order to follow best practice guidance.
Depending on the type of work being undertaken, suitability of habitats and presence of GCN, mitigation and protected species licence work may be required, this will ultimately be determined by the findings of stage 2 surveys.
There are important survey timescales for newt work and these present significant project constraints, however there are always opportunities to survey land for the suitability of GCN outside of the stage 2 survey window. We can provide year round GCN habitat survey opportunities so get in touch for further information and support.
Early planning will lead to the most successful projects however its never too late to start your ecology work.