Great crested newts are protected by law, including their breeding sites and resting places.

You may be able to get a licence from us if you cannot avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats, or if you want to survey or conserve them.

Great crested newts and the law

It is against the law to:

  • capture, injure or kill great crested newts
  • damage or destroy a breeding or resting place
  • obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places
  • possess, transport, sell or exchange live or dead great crested newts
  • take great crested newt eggs

You also need a licence to possess, transport, sell or exchange a protected species.

When you need a great crested newt licence

Great crested newts breed in ponds and other water bodies but are dependent on other habitat throughout the year. Activities that can affect great crested newts include:

  • maintaining, restoring or destroying ponds or water bodies
  • introducing fish into ponds used by great crested newts
  • removal of vegetation, scrub, brash piles used by great crested newts
  • excavations and other ground works
  • surveys using torches, nets or traps

When you don’t need a great crested newt licence

You can work without a licence if you can:

  • avoid killing or injuring great crested newts
  • avoid destroying their eggs
  • avoid damaging their habitat
  • avoid disturbing breeding newts

You may be able to time works to avoid sensitive periods so you will need to allow time to plan for this in your work schedule. You may need to employ an ecologist to advise you.

Apply for a great crested newt licence

You may need a licence to carry out certain activities.

Find out if you need to apply for a great crested newt licence.

If you cannot avoid disturbing great crested newts, or damaging their breeding sites and resting places, you can apply for a licence.

You may be asked to submit an ecological compliance audit form if you're planning to build a large scheme development or a development that carries a higher risk for protected species. 

Apply for a great crested newt licence (online form)

Apply for a great crested newt licence (Word document form)

Apply for a great crested newt survey

You will need to employ an ecologist to carry out a survey for you.

You will need to apply for a survey and conservation licence if you plan to disturb great crested newts with your proposed works.

You should carry out surveys of breeding ponds for the presence of newts at the right time of the year. You should allow time for the survey to take place when planning your project.

The ecologist should provide a written report of the results. The report should show that you have taken great crested newts into account when planning your work.

We will issue licences for specific sites; these licences are for a limited period.

Licensing more invasive techniques requires a detailed scientific project method statement which you must submit with your survey and conservation licence.

Apply for a survey and conservation licence

Planning permission

If planning permission or other planning consents are required, or have been granted, you will need to ask your local planning authority to complete the local planning authority consultation form

Reference form

Ecologists that have not had a species licence from us before will need to complete a reference form.

Referees must be:

  • able to comment on their experience of working with the relevant species
  • their ability to use the methods and equipment proposed within your licence application
  • suitably qualified themselves and must have held a relevant licence previously
  • must have experience of your work for at least one survey season

We can only accept one reference from the company you currently work for. We may contact your referees to verify their statements.

Forestry management licence

You must apply for a licence if you’re doing any activity in a forest or woodland setting that affects a protected species.

Apply for a forest management licence

Extend your licence

You can sometimes apply for an extension to your licence if you’re unable to complete an activity before a licence expires.

Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Report your actions under a licence

Complete the development licence report form four weeks after the licence is due to expire.

Licence monitoring report

An ecologist must complete the licence monitoring report form. The form is a requirement of the monitoring conditions of your species licence.

Amend your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.

Amendment request form
Change of licensee
Change of ecologist form
Survey licence amendment form

Report great crested newts

There is no need to report sightings of great crested newts. We do encourage people to send details of wildlife sightings to their local record centre.

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust has information to help you identify the different newt species.

eDNA test results for great crested newt licensing

We will now accept eDNA test results as evidence or absence of great crested newts.

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time during your licence application.

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