Great Crested Newt Surveys

Does your development site have Great Crested Newts?

Great Crested Newt Survey

Great Crested Newt Surveys – Why?

The great crested newt is an amphibian species native to the UK. Found across Europe, the species is a European Protected Species (EPS) and as such is subject to legal protection. Spending most of their lives on land, Great Crested Newts return to their breeding ponds once a year to breed.

The presence of Great Crested Newts on a proposed development site can have significant implications to development plans, project timings (due to restricted survey seasons) and costs. Identifying the presence of them early in the developmental stage is fundamental to ensuring potential constraints are identified and re-mediated in order to achieve a smooth route through the planning process.

Consulting with an ecologist to designate suitable areas for mitigation, prior to finalising a development master-plan, can save time and money. Failure to consider the species at the pre – planning stage can cause significant setbacks with getting permission granted.

Great Crested Newt Surveys – When?

First returning in March, Great Crested Newts remain in the ponds until mid to late June, when they return once more to their terrestrial habitats. Following Natural England guidance and as newts are largely nocturnal, surveying is best conducted at night.

Great Crested Newt Survey Season: mid March – mid June

Peak Great Crested Newt Survey season: mid-April – mid-May.  At least four surveys are required and half of these have to be undertaken between mid-April and mid-May.

Identifying Great Crested Newts

male newt shutterstock_385157002Great crested newts are easy to identify from their other native counterparts, the smooth and palmate newt, being around 1.5 times as large. Great crested newts have warty skin, and a brightly coloured orange underbelly with black spots. The males have a large jagged crest which extends from the back of their head along their back, giving the species its name.

Legislation & Licences

Great Crested Newts are protected under section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and regulation 39 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007.

Guided by Natural England, the Local Planning Authority will request that an assessment for GCN is undertaken on all sites with ponds or sites with suitable terrestrial habitats that have connectivity to ponds in the local area – up to 500m away.

Furthermore, these assessments need to be undertaken by a licenced surveyor. All REC staff hold the legally required Natural England licence to survey for newts and possess European Protected Species licences to carry out ecological mitigation works such and off site translocations and habitat enhancement.

For further information or advice please email our Ecology team at or ring them on 0845 676 9303

Ecology Services