Great crested newts are fully protected under domestic and European legislation. It is an offence to kill, injure, capture or disturb a great crested newt, or to damage or destroy a breeding or resting place or obstruct access to great crested newt habitat. They are widespread across lowland Britain, except Devon, Cornwall and parts of Wales and Scotland. European wide populations have declined from habitat loss and land use change.
Great crested newts use terrestrial habitats up to 500m away from their breeding ponds, so they are frequently encountered on development projects even when ponds are not directly affected. Where development may affect great crested newts or their habitats a survey and impact assessment may be required. Surveys are typically carried out March - June; scheduling surveys in advance is imperitive in avoiding delays to your development project. The recent (2014) introduction of eDNA surveys may also offer a cost effective survey tool for a project when seeking to establish presence or absence of a population.
If a survey and impact assessment demostrates the development is likely to affect great crested newts, a European Protected Species Licence from Natural England may be required to allow works to proceed.
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