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Great Crested Newt (Male)

Although the great crested newt is still quite widespread in Britain, it has suffered a major decline over the last century and many newt habitats have become fragmented by development. The species may be numerous locally in parts of lowland England and Wales but in some areas the geographic distribution is poorly recorded.

Great crested newts are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2010 (as amended) making the great crested newt a European Protected Species.

Because great crested newts are listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, Section 9(1) of the Act makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take great crested newts. Section 9(2) makes it an offence to possess or control a live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them. Section 9(4) makes it an offence to intentionally damage, destroy, obstruct access to, any structure or place which great crested newts use for shelter or protection. It is also an offence to intentionally disturb them while occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose. Section 9(5) makes it an offence to sell, offer or expose for sale, or possess or transport for the purpose of sale, any live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them. It is also an offence to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that great crested newts, or parts or derived things of them are bought, sold or are intended to be. Section 9 applies to all stages in their life cycle.

Their inclusion on Schedule 2 of the Habitat Regulations 2010 affords great crested newts extra protection by also making it an offence under Regulation 39(1) to deliberately capture, kill or disturb great crested newts or to deliberately take or destroy their eggs, or damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place. Regulation 39(2) makes it an offence to keep, or transport, or exchange great crested newts or any part or thing derived from them. Paragraphs 39(1) and 39(2) apply to all stages of their life cycle.

The great crested newt is also listed as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and has therefore been included as a Species of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 which requires local planning authorities to protect such species from the adverse affects of development.
A survey for great crested newts may be indicated when background information on distribution suggests that they may be present. More detailed indicators are:

  • any historical records for great crested newts on the site, or in the general area.
  • a pond on or near the site (within around 500m), even if it holds water only seasonally. Note that muddy, cattle-poached, heavily vegetated or shady ponds, ditches and temporary, flooded hollows can be used by great crested newts
  • sites with refuges (such as piles of logs or rubble), grassland, scrub, woodland or hedgerows within 500m of a pond

A Natural England licence is required in order to survey for great crested newts.  There are also constraints on the timings of these surveys.  Please see our survey calendar for more details.  Getting the timing for GCN surveys right is very important and commissioning for a survey early is vital as the survey season is quite short.

Further information can be downloaded from Natural England.


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