If there’s any likelihood that your development activities might interfere with great crested newt (GCN) populations, you will need the services of a licenced ecologist to ensure that it doesn’t become a problem. It’s easier than you think to get on the wrong side of the legislation and can be costly if you do.
The Ecology Consultancy can help you get it right – from the start.
Our ecologists are licenced to survey, to confirm the presence or absence of great crested newts, and to provide mitigation advice where needed. If necessary we can physically exclude them from your development site by using systems such as newt fencing. Newt fencing may also be used to create a receptor site or ‘newt-safe’ area where GCN can be moved or translocated to.
Within the UK, guidance on development in relation to GCN can be found in Natural England’s Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines. Activities that can affect great crested newts include:
• removing dense vegetation and disturbing the ground
• removing materials like dead wood piled on the ground
• excavating the ground, for example to renovate a building
• filling in or destroying ponds or other water bodies
In most cases it is possible to avoid harming GCN and damaging or blocking access to their habitats. If this can’t be avoided, a mitigation licence has to be obtained from Natural England so that they can be safely moved. Only qualified ecologists can legally carry out mitigation work. In fact, a Licence is required to even handle a GCN!
Natural England will want to see a mitigation and compensation strategy, as part of your mitigation licence application. If you need planning permission your planning authority will want to see them too. Both will be looking at your mitigation plans to assess how your proposals will affect any great crested newts on your site. They will be looking for how you intend to:
• avoid breeding sites and land habitats (or demonstrate why this is not possible)
• carry out any work to ponds
• provide more new habitat (breeding ponds and suitable land habitat) than you will remove – i.e. two ponds for every one lost
• maintain any links between habitats and, in particular, connect fragmented habitats
• mitigate or compensate for any negative effects to newts, including enhancing habitats throughout your development
Our ecologists will develop the best mitigation and compensation strategy for your site.
Moving newts on your site
It is sometimes possible to move great crested newts to a suitable new site, but this is only as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative. The great crested newts should stay within their home range, as close as possible to the original site. It is important to note that it can take up to two years to make a site suitable for large populations of great crested newts and proper planning is essential.
All of our experts are fully qualified and licensed to survey for, and handle great crested newts, and we can help you find the best solution for your site. Contact us at your nearest office for details of how we can help you.