The End of Great Crested Newt Surveys?!

Posted by Sarah Booley on 22/01/2016

Natural England and Woking Borough Council have launched a pilot scheme to explore whether a new system can be implemented to save developers time and money whilst providing more comprehensive mitigation and compensation for great crested newts. The main changes will include:

  • Removing the need for developers to undertake great crested newt survey work to inform a planning application
  • Developers make contributions to the county’s great crested newt project to offset the impact and reduce the need to include mitigation within a development site
  • Traditional site clearance methods likely to still be required, including pitfall trapping, to reduce risk of killing and inuring under the council’s licence
  • Minimise delays associated with lengthy licence applications and minimise requirement to squeeze mitigation within development sites


To trial a more landscape based approach to great crested newt conservation, Woking Borough Council and Natural England will focus on protecting and enhancing great crested newt habitat in key areas, providing a wider strategic approach to conservation and removing the need for individual development projects to apply for mitigation licences and provide compensation for this species. This will help to reduce the costs and potential schedule delays often associated with great crested newt surveys and licensing.

In 2015 the Council and Natural England undertook surveys, including using eDNA, to identify key habitat areas and assess likely impacts resulting from development. This information has been used to inform a full conservation strategy for Woking Borough Council. This identifies coloured zones showing areas that should be retained and enhanced as great crested newt habitat. This will ensure the continued provision of great crested newt habitat and enhance connectivity between existing populations.

As part of the pilot scheme Woking Borough Council will be awarded an organisational licence by Natural England. The new system means that when a project is proposed which is likely to result in the loss of great crested newt habitat the developer will have the option to pay into the new scheme. In doing so they will be not be required to undertake full great crested newts surveys or apply for a Natural England mitigation licence. By supporting the scheme they will be funding the creation and management of key great crested newt habitats. Full mitigation measures, such as fencing and trapping, will not be required prior to development. Whilst developers will not be required to relocate any newts found on site, the Council will be authorised to catch and safely relocate great crested newts to suitable habitats.

The approach looks to provide a net benefit to great crested newts in the local area.  The pilot scheme is currently at consultation stage. Further details about the proposed scheme and details about how to provide input into the consultation can be found on the Woking Borough Council website: Click Here