What is a great crested newt survey?

Great crested newt surveys, at the right time of year, will save time, money, and prevent delays. So what is a great crested newt survey?

Newt surveys and planning

Great crested newts, and their habitat, are legally protected, In Cheshire, and across the UK. Planning authorities have to take the presence of great crested newts into account when deciding planning applications. They may require great crested newt surveys, even if there are no ponds within your development site. The surveys can only be completed between 15th March and 15th June, which can delay planning approval, and development work.

Great crested newt habitat

It might surprise you to know that newts spend the majority of the year on dry land. Only returning to ponds to breed during spring and summer. Pond surveys are carried out at this peak time, to ensure that surveys are effective.

Newts can travel more than 1.5km from their breeding ponds. They may use a selection of different ponds, over a number of years. When GCN are on dry land, they shelter in piles of materials on the ground, such as: rocks, logs, brash, around tree roots, and in small holes in the ground. They move across grasslands along hedgerows and woodlands, using ground flora for shelter.

Even if you don’t have ponds within your development site, you may need surveys. This is because great crested newts move across, and shelter, on dry land, away from breeding ponds.

Do I need a great crested newt survey?

If you are unsure whether you will need a great crested newt survey, please contact us. Surveys won’t be needed, if the development will not affect newts or their habitat.

A brief description of different types of great crested newt survey is provided below;

A great crested newt scoping survey will identify ponds and key habitats locally which may be suitable for amphibians. It will give them a score based on the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) which is a standard method, used to assess the quality of habitats for newts. Depending on the score given by the HSI either; the site will be considered as unlikely to support great crested newts, or pond surveys will be needed.

Great crested newt pond surveys can only be completed between mid-March and mid-June, as this is the time of year when great crested newts come into ponds to breed. The survey consists of four separate visits, each survey includes an evening and morning visit to the pond(s). Various methods are used to sample the type and number of amphibians in  the pond, including netting, torching, egg searches and bottle traps, and to determine the presence or (likely) absence of great crested newts. If great crested newts are recorded in the pond two further survey visits will be needed to assess the population size.

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