The Great Crested Newt (GCN) (Triturus cristatus) is a European Protected Species (EPS) that can be a constraint if suitable aquatic or terrestrial habitats are to be impacted by development. Suitable habitat with potential to support GCN can be identified during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) and Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment of water-bodies within and close to the proposed development area.
If suitable habitat is found during the assessment, the next step is determining whether GCN are actually present or likely to be absent within the area(s) to be impacted.
ADAS has pioneered the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) testing to determine if GCN have recently been present within a waterbody. Water samples are tested for residual levels of GCN DNA within water bodies. This survey method can greatly reduce survey costs. More on our eDNA testing capabilities can be found here.
If eDNA is not a viable option at a site, we can instead determine the presence or likely absence of GCN using traditional survey methods of torching, trapping and/or netting within water-bodies.
If eDNA testing or traditional survey methods show GCN to be present, further survey visits using traditional techniques are required to determine the population size of GCN in each water-body. These surveys can only be conducted by suitably qualified and licenced individuals. The GCN survey season only lasts from mid-March to mid-June, with half of the surveys at each water-body having to be carried out during the peak breeding time of mid-April to mid-May. This means that if surveys are not properly planned in advance they can cause significant delays to project delivery.
If it is determined that GCN will be impacted by the works and this cannot be avoided, an EPS mitigation licence will be required from the appropriate Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), e.g. Natural England. Mitigation may range from temporary exclusion measures to translocation of the population and creation of compensatory habitat.
ADAS has ecological consultants experienced in providing pragmatic, commercially aware mitigation solutions for GCN and other species. If you would like more information on GCN surveying or mitigation, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and knowledgeable ecologists.