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It’s that time of year again… for GCN Surveys

As it’s already March, it is important for anyone who is purchasing land, or applying for planning permission, to find out if they need a Great Crested Newt (GCN) survey as soon as possible to avoid lengthy delays as a result of a strict narrow survey season.

GCN surveys are normally required if there is a suitable pond or ditch within 500m of the site boundary. If GCN habitat is found on the site (aquatic or terrestrial), and is likely to be impacted, it must be suitably protected. If these surveys are not carried out early enough, it can result in costly and time consuming delays to your project. Local Planning Authorities require surveys to start mid-March, but half of the survey visits have to be carried out between mid-April to mid-May, so now is the time to act!

agb Environmental will also be offering a new GCN survey technique this year: eDNA sampling of ponds, which will identify GCN presence/absence in ponds using just a single water test (taken by a trained and licensed ecologist). Although Natural England are accepting this method as proof of absence, if GCN are present, full surveys are still needed to gain a license.

There are a limited number of occasions where this new method is recommended to save time and money, and we can advise you when this may be relevant to your development. However, while the new eDNA sampling technique is still being tested and developed, the standard survey methods are a safer way to proceed in most development situations: Call Odette Robson (Principal Ecologist, at agb Environmental) on 01638 663226, if you would like to discuss the eDNA method further.

agb Environmental’s growing ecology team, all of whom are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), are experienced in all aspects of Preliminary Ecology Assessments and Phase 1 Habitat Surveys. Licensed to survey for GCNs, as well as bats and dormice, the team will even cater for more unusual services such as tree climbing bat surveys, site management and clearance.

The Great Crested Newt (GCN) is a species protected by National and European law due to loss and fragmentation of their natural habitat in the last few years, resulting in a major population decline. Although GCN breed in ponds, the majority of their life is spent on land, making undeveloped land the perfect home for this protected species.

As we move into spring it is important to get these surveys done, otherwise the survey season is missed and a long delay is faced until the next opportunity…..Spring 2016. At agb Environmental we have a team of licensed expert ecologists that have years of experience carrying out GCN survey and mitigation work – they are ready for your call.

For advice relating to a particular site you may be concerned about, contact Alex Brearley at agb Environmental on 01638 663226 or email

Ecology, Surveys