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What to do if you find great crested newts on site

Great crested newts are a European protected species. The animals and their eggs, breeding sites and resting places are protected by law.

You may be able to get a licence from Natural England if you’re planning an activity and can’t avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats (ponds and the land around ponds). 

This link gives more information about the current protection status of great crested newts.

The type of work that could affect great crested newts includes:

  • Maintenance works to ponds, woodland, scrub or rough grassland.
  • Removing dense, scrub vegetation and ground disturbance.
  • Removing materials, such as dead wood piles.
  • Ground excavation works.
  • Filling in or destroying ponds or other water bodies.
What to do if you want to develop land that contains great crested newts

If you want to develop land that contains or is likely to contain great crested newts i.e. it has suitable habitat for newts such as ponds or there are ponds nearby, it is likely that you will need a survey before planning permission is granted.

Survey reports and mitigation plans are required for development projects that could affect protected species, as part of getting planning permission or a mitigation licence. Surveys need to show whether protected species are present in the area or nearby, and how they use the site. Mitigation plans show how you’ll avoid, reduce or manage any negative effects to protected species.

Survey reports and mitigation plans are carried out by ecologists who need to decide which survey and mitigation methods are right for the project they’re working on.  You can find a suitable ecologist to advise on your development by checking out the members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) which is the industry body and has a Members Directory

Mitigation works typically involve vegetation clearance, fencing off areas which contain newts using exclusion fencing, trapping and translocating newts and creating new habitat such as ponds.

More recently, the government has developed the District Level Licensing Scheme which means that a number of planning authorities allow developers to fund mitigation projects off-site in a location that has been identified as suitable for newts within the district.  This means that developers do not have to carry out mitigation or other works on their development site and could therefore save time and disruption on their projects.  You can find more information about District Level Licensing here and guidance on how to join the scheme here.

Pond management

If the work you want to do is mainly pond management, you won’t need a licence for many cases of standard pond management works, but you will need to plan the work well to minimise the risk of deliberate killing, injuring or disturbing newts. By working carefully, you’ll make sure that your pond habitat recovers the following year.

Your work should normally be carried out in late autumn through winter, typically between early November to late January, when great crested newts are least likely to be present in ponds.

Activities you don’t need a licence for

Activities you can do that wouldn’t break that law include:

  • rescuing a great crested newt if it would die otherwise
  • doing work to a pond during the winter when no great crested newts are likely to be present
Wildlife crime and how to report it

If you think that you have witnessed a wildlife crime such as deliberate harm to great crested newts or any other projected species, this government document shows how to report if (WARNING, some of the images in this document are upsetting).  


JPR Environmental undertakes all forms of protected species mitigation for great crested newts, slow worms, grass snakes, badgers, water voles, crayfish and dormice.  Please get in contact if you have to undertake any protected species mitigation work and would like to get a quote.

Call us on 01453 708804 or email us with your protected species enquiry

For more information please visit our protected species pages for: