Case Studies

Great Crested Newt Surveys on land proposed for Two Ground-mounted Solar Arrays – Suffolk

Client: Renewable Energy Developer

In 2013 Urban Edge Environmental were instructed on a number of Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys for a range of proposed renewable energy developments in Suffolk. Land within the site boundaries was predominantly under arable cultivation, but areas of rough grassland and a network of ditches and hedgerows were also present. More than 30 ponds were present within 500m of two proposal sites. Our initial reports recommended that surveys should be carried out to establish whether the ponds were used by great crested newts for breeding.

Approach

Following habitat suitability assessments a total of 22 ponds were scoped into the survey, being both accessible and sufficiently suitable to support breeding great crested newts (GCN)…

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The following techniques were applied:

  • Egg searches – submerged vegetation was checked for folded leaves
  • Dusk torchlight surveys – searching for newts using high-powered torches
  • Bottle-trapping – traps placed around the pond edges in the evenings and checked the following mornings for great crested newts

All 22 ponds were surveyed on four occasions, while seven were visited on two further occasions to determine population size class.

Outcome

More than 300 great crested newts were recorded over the survey season, together with numerous eggs and larvae, indicating that a healthy metapopulation of breeding GCN was present across the survey area. Several smooth and palmate newts were also recorded. As none of the breeding ponds were to be affected by proposed development, recommendations were devised to avoid the risk of impacts to individual newts during hibernation or dispersal, including:

  • Works to be carried out to an agreed method statement and between mid-August and September only
  • A minimum buffer of 5m to be maintained between the construction zone and areas of better quality habitat for GCN
  • No new site access to be constructed, and works to be carried out under ecological supervision

If you’re thinking of submitting an application for a site in your portfolio, and want to know the site’s ecological value or the implications for development, please contact us now.