Great Crested Newt Survey Cost
When undertaking construction or development projects, it is essential to consider the potential impact on local wildlife and biodiversity. Great Crested Newts (GCN) are a European protected species, and they play a vital role in ecosystems and are particularly sensitive to changes in their habitat. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough surveys as part of the planning permission process to assess the presence and conservation needs in the project area.
Due to their ecological importance, Great Crested Newts are protected under national and international legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
It is an offence to kill, injure, capture, or intentionally disturb Great Crested Newts in their natural habitats. Therefore, if newts are present on a site, developers are legally required to carry out mitigation and compensation measures before any development work can begin. If these requirements are not met, a planning application will often be denied.
Great Crested Newt survey process
Prior to a GCN survey, an ecologist would typically begin with a broader survey, such as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA), to determine which species are present. After the PEA has been carried out, further specific ecological surveys can then be conducted if it is found that Great Crested Newts could be present.
An ecologist typically follows specific protocols and methods when carrying out a great crested newt survey. Here is a guide on how an ecologist might conduct such a survey:
- Preliminary Site Assessment:
- A preliminary assessment of the study area is conducted to identify potential great crested newt habitats. Ponds, lakes, ditches, or other wetland areas are often researched.
- Desk Study:
- Existing literature, maps, and any available records of great crested newt presence in the area is reviewed. This information helps in selecting appropriate survey sites.
- Visual Surveys:
- Visual surveys are required at potential breeding sites during the breeding season. This involves carefully conducting great crested newt and egg searches around ponds during the day and, if possible, during the evening or night when they are more active.
- Trapping Surveys:
- Traps are set up, such as bottle traps or funnel traps, in the ponds to capture great crested newts. Trapping surveys are typically conducted overnight and require regular checks to minimise stress on the captured animals.
- eDNA Sampling:
- Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling is also used as a non-invasive method. Water samples are collected from ponds and analysed for the presence of great crested newt DNA. This method is increasingly used for its effectiveness in detecting species presence or absence.
- Habitat Assessment:
- The quality of the habitat is assessed, noting vegetation, water quality, and other factors that may influence the presence of great crested newts. A Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment can provide guidance on the likelihood of newts being present in a habitat area.
Great Crested Newt survey cost
The cost of a GCN survey can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type and scope of the survey, the size and complexity of the site, the geographic location, and the specific requirements set by a local planning authority.
The characteristics of the site, such as its size, accessibility, and geographic location, can affect the cost. Surveys in remote or challenging locations may require more time and resources.
The time of year can also affect the GCN survey cost. Some surveys are more effective during specific seasons when newts are more active, and the timing may influence the overall duration of the survey. The optimal time to carry out GCN surveys is between mid April and mid June.
To obtain an accurate estimate for a Great Crested Newt survey cost, it is recommended to contact ecological consultants with experience in newt assessments. They can provide a tailored quote based on the specific requirements of the project.
How can Collington Winter assist?
Collington Winter Environmental are a team of ecological consultants with extensive experience in undertaking GCN surveys on all types of development projects. Our Ecology Director, Olivia Collington, holds a Natural England mitigation licence and has worked with protected species across the UK.
If it is determined that your proposed project may affect Great Crested Newts, our team can provide mitigation measures to ensure that your project meets legal requirements.
Our Director Jane Winter also provides landscape architecture services.