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GCN in a gloved hand

Great Crested Newt (GCN) Surveys

Great crested newt surveys are an essential part of development projects that may affect their habitats. These surveys help to ensure that the newts are protected and their habitats are conserved.

Three great crested newts in someones cupped hands


Why are great crested newts surveyed?

Great crested newts (GCN) are listed as a European Protected Species under Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive. They are protected under the wildlife and countryside act (1981) and are a priority species under the UK post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.


When do I need to have a great crested newt survey?

A GCN survey should be undertaken when any proposed development with suitable habitat within 500m of a pond is planned.

A GCN survey should be undertaken by a licensed surveyor, enabling them to legally disturb newts for the purpose of assessing potential development impacts. Surveys can be carried out between March and June as this is when GCN’s breed in ponds.

GCN surveys entail between four and six site visits to each waterbody ecologically connected to the proposed development site. Each visit uses three methods to search for GCN.

Egg Search

Manually inspecting submerged vegetation for GCN eggs during daylight.

A pair of GCN eggs attached to an aquatic plant


 Nocturnal searches for adult GCN using a high-powered torch.

A high powered torch beam shone into a pond


The use of overnight funnel traps to catch and count adult GCN.

A funnel trap set up in a pond

Alternatively an eDNA survey may be offered

You may be offered the option of an eDNA survey instead of full GCN surveys as part of your development.


eDNA surveys are recommended for a variety of reasons such as if a pond on/near the development site could support GCN but there have been no/few local records, or if a pond may be suitable but is not ideal.

They involve testing water samples from ponds for the presence of GCN DNA and are more effective during GCN breeding season (mid March - mid June). If the results are negative then no further surveys are necessary, however if any of the ponds sampled return a positive result for GCN DNA then full GCN surveys are required.

A great crested newt looking into the camera


What does Abrehart Ecology offer?

At Abrehart Ecology we offer professional, skilled, and efficient great crested newt survey work for both full GCN surveys and eDNA surveys. We undertake in-house fieldwork and expert report writing, with our licenced employees.


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