Great Crested Newts (GCN)

Amphibians are vital components of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. If there are water bodies in the vicinity of your development, depending on the type of development proposed, an initial great crested newt survey may be recommended

Presence/Likely Absence Surveys

These are ‘traditional’ surveys and involve a total of four pond surveys by a licensed surveyor using a range of methods to determine whether great crested newts are present or likely to be absent from the pond. Surveys can be undertaken between mid-March and June and at least two surveys need to be completed between mid-April and mid-May (Please refer to our Ecology Survey Calendar for further information on GCN and other protected species surveys.). If great crested newts are found, a further two surveys will be required to determine the population size class.

Population Size Class Assessments

This involves six surveys using the same methods as presence/likely absence surveys and are only undertaken once great crested newts have been identified in order to determine the population size class that the population of great crested newts in the pond falls into (low, medium or large). At least three surveys must be undertaken within the optimum period of mid-April to mid-May. (Please refer to our Ecology Survey Calendar).

Environmental DNA (eDNA) Testing

This involves a licensed person taking water samples from pond(s) which are subsequently sent off for analysis at a laboratory to determine whether great crested newt DNA is present or absent. eDNA testing can be carried out between mid-April and the end of June (Please refer to our Ecology Survey Calendar) which leaves little space within the survey window to assess population sizes if great crested newts are found. Consequently, eDNA is not suitable for all projects. However, eDNA surveys are suitable for:

  • Large projects with long lead times: they can be undertaken a year in advance to scope in or out, large numbers of waterbodies with potentially considerable savings to the developer

  • Temporary and low impact developments that may only require presence or absence surveys

  • Small projects with limited risk of great crested newt presence.

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