Legislation and Policy
The Great Crested Newt is protected through inclusion in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which consolidates all the various amendments made to the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 in respect of England and Wales. The 1994 Regulations transposed Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (EC Habitats Directive) into national law. Taken together, these legislative instruments make it illegal to carry out the following activities:-
• intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take (capture etc.) a Great Crested Newt;
• possess a Great Crested Newt;
• intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy, obstruct access to any structure or place used by a Great Crested Newt for shelter or protection, or disturb any Great Crested Newt occupying such a structure or place; and
• sell, offer for sale, possess or transport for the purpose of sale (live or dead animal, part or derivative) or advertise for buying or selling such things.
This legislation is considered to include terrestrial habitat within 500 metres of a Great Crested Newt breeding pond that will function as foraging and hibernating habitat for the newts.
UK planning policy under the terms of Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS 9) sets out the Government’s national policies on different aspects of planning in England that regional planning bodies and local planning authorities (LPAs) are expected to consider. Key components of this policy include:
• Planning decisions should be based on up-to-date information (e.g. surveys) about the environmental characteristics of their areas;
• Planning decisions should aim to maintain, enhance, restore or add to biodiversity interests. In taking decisions LPAs should ensure that appropriate emphasis is attached to designated sites, protected species, and to biodiversity interests within the wider environment;
• The aim of planning decisions should be to prevent harm to biodiversity interests.
• It also emphasis’s that development proposals provide many opportunities for building-in beneficial biodiversity features as part of good design and that when considering proposals, LPAs should maximise such opportunities in and around developments.
PPS 9 requires that LPA’s take steps to promote the conservation of habitats and species of ‘principal importance’ (i.e. BAP habitats and species) through their planning function.
Therefore developments on sites where Great Crested Newts may be present need to be mindful of this legislation and policy.
Cambridge Ecology has extensive experience in surveying for Great Crested Newt using specific survey techniques to determine the presence or likely absence of Great Crested Newt, population sizes and identifying key habitats within the study area. The data collected is used to devise appropriate mitigation strategies.
Cambridge Ecology has a wide range of skills required in this specialist area including possession of Natural England Great Crested Newt survey licence, necessary for all standard Great Crested Newt Surveys.
The most efficient period for Great Crested Newt surveys is between early March and early June when animals are present in their breeding ponds and waterbodies. For licensing purposes three separate methods are required to determine the likely presence/absence of Great Crested Newts.
The surveys include the use of various standard and specialised methods such as:
• Egg Search Surveys – involves searching submerged vegetation for the presence of eggs.
• Torch Surveys – involves using high powered torches to locate the presence of adult great-crested newt within the waterbody at night.
• Netting Surveys – involves sweep netting the waterbody until all areas are adequately searched. Specialist professional hand nets are used in waterbodies containing dense vegetation or murky water which reduces the effectiveness of other survey methods.
• Bottle Trapping Surveys – the most reliable method for recording the presence of Great Crested Newts. This involves placing plastic bottle traps into waterbodies at dusk at a density of one trap per two metres of water margin. The traps are then retrieved the following dawn and all newts recorded and released, and the traps removed from the ponds. Four to six visits are necessary to determine presence/absence and population assessment respectively.
Habitat Creation and Mitigation
• Mitigation strategies have been developed in order to protect Great Crested Newts from development impacts and ensure our clients remain complaint with the relevant legislation. A development that may result in the loss of Great Crested Newt habitat or the disturbance of Great Crested Newts requires a development licence.
• Creation, maintenance and management of new Great Crested Newt habitats and refugia and hibernacula
• Identification and preparation of receptor sites in advance of future translocations.
• Installation of barrier/drift fencing to exclude Great Crested Newts from construction sites.
• Great Crested Newt translocations.