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:
Great Crested Newt
At a time that most ecological consultants are out undertaking great crested newt surveys and developers are squeezing in last minute commissions for 2016 the BBC News and Ecosulis are also considering what the future holds for this European Protected Species (EPS).
We didn’t have a particularly cold winter, however amphibians are now starting to move towards their breeding ponds and there is only 2.5 months to get started with your surveys. This is the only window to undertake eDNA, great crested newt presence/absence and population monitoring surveys to support your planning application. If this window is missed, great crested newts can cause significant delays to your project programmes, and can affect your layout.
Great crested newts (Tritiurus cristatus) are well known within ecological consultancy as they are a protected species which often crop up within areas of proposed development. They are sensitive creatures which are vulnerable to water changes and therefore suffer due to natural forces including; ponds overgrowing, shallowing and eutrophication, as well as non-natural forces; industrial water pollution, destruction and drainage of ponds, introduced predatory fish and habitat fragmentation. But there may be another force to add into the mix…
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is DNA which is collected from water in which plants or animals live rather than from the organism directly. A method has been developed in ponds in the UK to use eDNA to determine presence or absence of Great Crested Newts within a waterbody.
As construction progresses at the Eastbourne Road development, ecological monitoring of retained and newly created habitats, and protection measures such as fencing continues. This season’s monitoring shows continued use of the ponds on site by great crested newt, and a second successful year for the recently installed bat boxes, which were used by brown long-eared last year, and pipistrelle this year.
Amphibians – Great crested newt surveys have now ended until spring but recruitment monitoring continues through August and September and translocations will continue up to November
Bats – Tree climbing surveys and building inspections are on-going and the season for activity bat surveys will end in September