When are Great Crested Newt surveys carried out?
The impact of a development is taken very seriously by planning authorities. In a bid to protect certain species, there are various rules and regulations, as well as laws, which developers need to be aware of. The support of a landscape architecture firm is considered to be indispensable for this, as they will be able to conduct research and provide guidance to developers who are in the process of starting a particular construction, demolition or maintenance project in an area.
Survey reports accompanied by mitigation plans are needed for a development project, which could potentially end up affecting protected species. A landscape architecture firm will be able to see to this so as to assist a developer in getting the required planning permission, or a mitigation license.
The landscape architecture specialist will have the required knowledge and equipment to carry out such studies and prepare surveys and reports accordingly. The surveys would need to show whether any protected species is present in that area, or within close proximity to that site. How such species use the site will also need to be evaluated. Afterwards, mitigation plans will need to be devised in order to demonstrate how the developer will be trying to avoid any negative effects on those species. Reducing or managing such negative effects is indispensable to safeguard certain creatures, such as great crested newts, bats and birds.
Great crested newt surveys are required if there is previous evidence from historical distribution records that there may be newts in that area. Also, if there is a pond within 500 metres of the proposed development, it becomes even more important to conduct such a survey. Additionally, if the development site includes grassland, woodland, log piles, rubble, scrub or hedgerows, then it is important to carry out great crested newt surveys, as there is a higher probability that there are such creatures living in the area. Even if a pond is temporary, or muddy, or vegetated, or with fish, there may still be great crested newts present. Sometimes even if the land has been ploughed and soil stripped, such newts may still be there.
Great crested newt surveys are conducted in various ways. The specialist landscape architects will conduct egg searches, refuge searches, and set pitfall, bottle or funnel traps.
Netting and torch surveys are sometimes conducted too. An environmental DNA test is often carried out too. Generally the best time when to conduct the surveys is between March and May. Several visits will need to be carried out in order to establish whether there are great crested newts in the area. The landscape architect will be able to decide how many visits should be done to achieve more accurate results.
Once these surveys have been carried out an assessment will be made. This will highlight the impacts of the proposed development on great crested newts. Both quantitative as well as qualitative information will be included in the planning application. Some factors which will be seen to include the number and the size of any newt populations in the area, the nature of the habitats, especially whether there is a breeding site, and also how significant the site is to the population of great crested newts.
It is important to carry out such surveys as these creatures can easily be harmed. When excavations, top-soiling and site clearance is carried out it is easy to end up injuring or killing these newts, and generally their habitat will be lost. There are even a number of long-term impacts to consider as well, such as fewer foraging opportunities, reduced breeding, harsher conditions and exposure to predators, as well as unsuccessful hibernation. As a result, great crested newts surveys are indispensable so as to avoid such negative effects, and also to come up with mitigation measures that can reduce such events. The scheme could be redesigned in a number of ways, and compensation measures could be seen to, so as to safeguard these creatures.