TransTech Environmental Consultants - Great Crested Newt  Survey Scotland
TransTech Environmental Consultants - Great Crested Newt  Survey Scotland

Great Crested Newt Survey

Great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) are Britain’s largest newt species. Populations have declined over recent years as a result of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat.


The great crested newt is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Great crested newts are also protected in Europe under Annex 2 and 4 of the EU Habitats and Species Directive, the Bern Convention and the Conservation Regulations 1994 Natural. It is illegal to intentionally kill, injure or capture great crested newt, their young or their eggs or to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct their breeding ponds, waterbodies used by the newt or terrestrial habitats (as newts spend a proportion of their life cycle in each).


A habitat assessment will determine the likelihood of great crested newts being present and how they will be affected by the proposed project. Due to the level of protection afforded to this species all breeding sites and ponds within 500m of the site boundary should be surveyed and all survey techniques must be carried out by a licensed individual. As newts are largely nocturnal and hibernate, surveys are best carried out at night and during the breeding season.


Surveys to define the presence or absence of great crested newts will require four visits, or six visits to define population size. A combination of the following survey techniques can be used on each occasion:

  • egg search - eggs of great crested newt are larger than other newt species and are laid in a neatly folded arrangement on the leaves of submerged plants,
  • torching - high powered torches are used to shine into the pond at night when newts are most active,
  • netting - a long handled dip net is used to search for newts,
  • bottle trapping - plastic bottles are submerged in the water at dusk and checked and removed the following morning, and
  • terrestrial search - refuges such as logs, rubble and wood are carefully inspected underneath during daylight hours and outside of the breeding season.

Pond surveys are seasonally constrained to the period mid-March to mid-June, when adults are in breeding ponds. Outside of this season terrestrial surveys using drift fencing and pitfall traps can be used to establish presence of animals in terrestrial habitat, excluding November to March when the newts will be hibernating.


If great crested newts are present a licence application will have to be made to Scottish Natural Heritage or Natural England. The application requires a mitigation 'method statement' describing how great crested newts will be conserved on site after development. Mitigation can involve barrier-fencing part or all of a development site, trapping and transporting animals to nearby pre-prepared receptor sites and creating new habitat (e.g. ponds). Once the licence application has been processed it can take up to one month to receive a response.


Requirements for surveys will be application and site specific. It is recommended that all applicants seek pre-application advice to ensure that they carry out surveys appropriate to their development. This will not only ensure that the required information is provided for the planning department to determine the planning application but will save expense on surveys/work that is not necessary for the application.


Although great crested newts are more prevalent near the Scottish Border we can carry out newt surveys throughout Scotland.


For more information on our great crested newt survey services please call the office on 01631 720699, or if you would like to request a fee quote for your project contact us by email at

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