With the window to survey for the presence of newts now open, ecologists at Harris Lamb have begun working with developers to avoid costly delays to planning applications by providing advice on great-crested newts.

Commercial and residential developers intending to submit planning applications this year are advised to check their sites for proximity to ponds before April and seek ecology surveys; rather than potentially experience delays to their proposals.

A Great Crested Newt
A Great Crested Newt – image iStock/MikeLane45
Harris Lamb's Environment team have been carrying out surveys for the creatures this month
Harris Lamb’s Environment team have been carrying out surveys for the creatures this month

Holly Smith, Director of the consultancy’s Environment Department, said: “Whilst new licensing regimes are now available for great-crested newts, including the new District licensing scheme available in some local authorities, understanding whether there are ponds up to 500 m from your development site and if necessary, undertaking newt surveys in the annual core survey window April and May, early in the project gives the greatest flexibility”

Great Crested Newt Eggs found on leaf.
Great Crested Newt eggs found during surveys this month

“While the presence of great-crested newts can delay a development if unforeseen, destruction of one can incur a £5,000 fine per newt and failure to carry out the necessary ecology surveys within the permitted timescales can be a costly impediment to developers who have a clear schedule of works and completion dates, as development can be halted until the appropriate checks can be made – so there’s really only one sensible course of action, which is to get surveys considered now” she added.

Harris Lamb’s team of licensed newt ecologists is currently providing a complementary service for clients, whereby it will review sites and identify ecology survey-timing requirements ahead of applications being made and works being commenced.

For advice, contact Holly at