Reptiles & GCN Amphibians

Reptiles & GCN Amphibians across Surrey, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire

Reptiles-Current Status and why they are protected

All British reptiles are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and are therefore protected from intentional or reckless killing or injury. Sand lizard and smooth snake and their places of shelter are afforded ‘full’ protection under Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats & Regulations (2010). This makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure, disturb, take, possess or sell these species (in all life stages). It is also illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to places they use for breeding, resting, shelter and protection. 

All species of reptile are priority species in the UK BAP and have been adopted as Species of Principal Importance under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006).

Darwin Ecology Reptile Services:

  •     Reptile surveys
  •     Installation of reptile exclusion fencing
  •     Hibernacula creation
  •     Habitat design and creation

Reptile Surveys

An initial walkover survey will identify whether a site has suitable habitat to support reptiles. Secondary reptile surveys may be require which are undertaken during the reptile activity season. Surveys may consist of both a visual search of the habitat for basking reptiles in the open and a search beneath artificial and natural refugia.

Artificial refugia are frequently used in surveys, being the most reliable method for assessing reptile presence or absence on a site. The refugee are laid out in habitats considered suitable for reptiles and after a period of approximately eight weeks, they are checked for the presence of reptiles basking on or under them. 

The optimum months for reptile surveys are April-May and September. Typically 5-7 visits in suitable weather are sufficient to provide reptile presence or absence from a site. Use the reptile survey and mitigation calendar above to help plan your works schedule.


The planning application process considers the presence of any reptile species on a site to be a material consideration and developers must 
demonstrate that a suitable mitigation plan has been 
produced to minimise the risk of killing or injury to reptiles. 

Development plans should aim to retain and conserve existing habitats and reptile populations on site. If this is not possible, reptiles may need to be translocated to suitable alternative habitat nearby.


European Protected Species Licensed are required for developments affecting smooth snake and sand 
lizards only. If any reptiles are confirmed to be presentation a development site, planning permission
may be refused unless you can clearly demonstrate that the species will be adequately protected during the development process and that disturbance will be minimised. It is therefore advisable to include a method statement with any planning application that will affect reptiles, outlining the mitigation and compensation measures necessary. In England, survey licences are issued by Natural England. 

For more information on reptile surveys across Farnham, Surrey, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire contact us now.

Great Crested Newts-Current Status and why they are protected

Great Crested Newts (GCN) and their habitats are fully protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) and partially protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This legislation makes it an offence to kill, injure or capture GCN, their young or eggs, or destroy/damage their ponds or places of shelter used for breeding or protection. The GCN is also a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) and has been adopted in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act 2006. 

Darwin Ecology GCN Services:

  •     Pond assessments and Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessments
  •     GCN Surveys - bottle trapping, egg searches, torch surveys, netting and refuge search
  •     eDNA
  •     Mitigation strategies
  •     EPS mitigation licence applications
  •     Installation of GCN exclusion fencing and pitfall traps
  •     Pond and hibernacula design and creation

Great Crested Surveys

GCN surveys are usually based on confirming newt presence/absence in water bodies during the amphibian breeding period. GCN Survey work is more suitably undertaken during the breeding season whilst newt activity is focused around their breeding ponds (mid-March-mid-June). 

Surveys should involve a minimum of four visits (with two visits in April or May), using a minimum of three surveying methods, to all suitable water bodies within the development site and within a radius of 500m. 

Standard survey techniques include bottle trapping, netting, egg searches, torchlight searches and searches of terrestrial refugee. Use the GCN survey and mitigation calendar above to help plan your works schedule.


If GCN are confirmed on a site and development activities are considered likely to result in significant negative impacts on newts and their habitats, the GCN may need to be captured and translocated to an alternative, suitable, nearby habitat. 

A European Protected Species Licence will need to be obtained, together with a suitable mitigation strategy before any mitigation work involving newt capture can proceed. 

Mitigation works may involve replacement habitat creation and the capture and translocation of newts to an alternative habitat using amphibian drift fencing and pitfall traps. The level of newt capture effort will be dependent on the size of the newt population affected. 


If planned developments are likely to result in a significant negative impact on GCN, a European Protected Species Licence is require together with a suitable mitigation plan. The licence will only be granted if it demonstrates that the favourable conservation status of GCN are maintained and that there is no satisfactory alternative to the proposed development. In England, survey licences are issued by Natural England.
For more information on Great Crested Newt surveys in the South and South-West contact us now.

Southern Office - Farnham, Surrey

Helen Cavilla
01252 449 512
07701 370 762

Laura Ashford
01252 449 512
07525 134 803

South West Office - Shaftesbury

Michael Cummings
01252 449 512
07748 843 842
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