The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It has additional protection as a European Protected Species. As such, it is illegal to capture or disturb great crested newts, and their eggs, breeding sites and resting places are all protected.

There are three native species of newt in the UK with the great crested newt being the largest. Their distribution is widespread across the UK but patchy. Great crested newts can be a planning constraint if a development could impact their aquatic or terrestrial habitats.

A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) will help identify any potential newt habitats. Alternatively, a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment of water-bodies within and close to the proposed development area can also be used. Local planning authorities will likely ask for a survey if there are ponds on site or in close proximity to the development.

If a suitable habitat for great crested newt is discovered, the next step is determining whether great crested newts are actually present or likely to be absent.

Our ecologists are licensed surveyors registered with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environment Management (CIEEM). We also pioneered the use of environmental DNA analysis for great crested newts.

Contact details

Methods of surveying

Environmental DNA

Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing can determine if great crested newts have recently been present within a waterbody. Our scientists can test water samples for residual traces of DNA within water bodies.

eDNA is rapid and cost-effective when compared to traditional surveying. It also has a longer survey window.

Learn more about our eDNA testing capabilities.

ADAS ecologist collecting for an Great Crested Newt eDNA Survey

Traditional surveying

If eDNA is not a viable option, we can instead determine the presence or likely absence of great crested newts using traditional survey methods. This can include torching, trapping and/or netting within water-bodies.

The survey season window is narrow and only lasts from mid-March to mid-June. Half of the surveys at each water-body need to be carried out during the peak breeding time of mid-April to mid-May. If surveys are not properly planned in advance, it can cause significant project delays.

ecology survey legend

If great crested newts are present

If great crested newts are present, we will carry out further survey work to determine the population size. These surveys can only be conducted by suitably qualified and licensed ecologists.

Mitigation

Applying for a licence

If great crested newts will be impacted by the works and this is unavoidable, we will need to apply for a European Protected Species (EPS) mitigation licence from a Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), e.g. Natural England. Our ecologists can apply for a licence on your behalf.

Mitigation calendar

Mitigation may range from temporary exclusion measures to translocation of the population and creation of compensatory habitat.

Great Crested Newt mitigation calendar

* Please note the process to apply for a European Protected Species Mitigation (EPSM) Licence can take some time. It requires recent survey work at the site for this species and survey work is seasonally constrained.

More information

ADAS has ecological consultants can provide pragmatic, commercially aware mitigation solutions for protected species.

If you would like more information on great crested newts, please do not hesitate to contact Joanna Graham joanna.graham@adas.co.uk.

Meet the Ecology team

Great Crested Newt (GCN) Mitigation works,

Habitat Management / Environment

Great Crested Newt District Pilot Project, Woking

Ecology / Environment

Natural England agreement scale monitoring of countryside stewardship

Landscape / Environment

Ecological mitigation work, Hinkley connection, UK

Ecology / Habitat Management / Environment