Great crested newts – a new approach

Great crested newtA pilot project is currently underway in Woking that may herald major changes to the way great crested newt conservation is undertaken in the UK, minimising cost and disruption to development sites under the present restrictive system whenever newts are present in the area.

The trial, being undertaken jointly by Natural England and Woking Borough Council, aims to identify to size, location and connectivity of newt populations in the area by testing for trace newt DNA in pondwater. This new survey technique will be used to produce a local conservation plan for the newts, linking up and protecting the most important populations, specify where new habitat should be created to ensure a healthy overall population, and identify areas where development will have least impact. The Council will then put the new habitats in place so that when development results in habitat loss, habitat gains will already be in place to compensate.

Speaking of the new proposals, Andrew Sells, Chairman of Natural England, said:

“This innovative pilot in Woking is an exciting opportunity that I hope will bring significant benefits for conservation. The current licensing system for European Protected Species in England is quite a rigid way of protecting great crested newts, placing the emphasis on individual newts, rather than the species as a whole. By making the system more flexible and strategic, it will enable us to establish habitat for great crested newts, where their populations will most benefit from being in a wide network of habitat, rather than being squeezed in around development. Alongside creating strongholds for great crested newt, this ground-breaking approach will streamline the delivery of much-needed development and lift constraints on the layout and design of development land.”

…. Go to the original CIEEM article

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