The annual window to survey for the presence of newts is fast approaching, and ecologists at Harris Lamb are helping developers to avoid both costly delays to planning applications and potential fines by providing surveys into the presence of great-crested newts.

Whilst many developments may now benefit from District Licences for this species, commercial and residential developers are being advised to check whether their sites are in proximity to ponds before April and to seek ecology surveys to ensure they don’t experience delays to any planned works, or consider whether the site may benefit from adopting the District Licencing scheme if available in the area.

Holly Smith, Director of Harris Lamb’s Environment Department, said: “The presence of great-crested newts could have significant impacts on a planned site, and It’s essential that developers understand the timeframes involved and the importance of implementing surveys or considering District Licensing options and take advantage of the core survey months where needed.”

The presence of great-crested newts can cause lengthy delays to programmes and failure to carry out the necessary ecology surveys within the permitted timescales can be costly to developers.

Furthermore, the destruction of one of the protected amphibians can incur a £5,000 fine per animal– making a professional survey conducted by a licensed newt ecologist the safest option.

“Every year we advise all our clients that if there are ponds within 500 metres of a site boundary, there’s a strong possibility that surveys will be needed if District Licensing isn’t an option, with results submitted with a planning application,” said Holly.

“With the annual core survey window limited to April and May, now is the time to request and implement these crucial surveys, or risk missing the opportunity for another year.

“If our clients have any doubts or concerns with regard to great crested newts, or would like to consider using a District Licensing approach, we would encourage them to give us a call for advice,” she added.

For advice and information, contact Holly at