Project Name: Colmworth Great Crested Newts

Location: Colmworth, Bedfordshire

Tasks: Presence and Absence Surveys for Great Crested Newts and Precautionary Methods of Works

Project Overview: Prime Environment undertook great crested newt surveys at two ponds in Colmworth for great crested newts. The surveys followed eDNA surveys by another consultant, and the results allowed us to produce a Precautionary Methods of Works which avoided the need for an expensive and lengthy licence application.

This is typical of the way we work – we put in time to create the best results for our clients and nature conservation, rather than automatically following ‘standard’ mitigation recommendations.

Prime Environment were contacted in March 2016 by a private client who had a planning application on hold due to great crested newts (a protected species) being found close to their development site. The newts had been identified by eDNA surveys undertaken in 2015 by another consultant- the planning authority required further surveys to determine the application. This was the only thing delaying the application and the client was keen to get it completed and so the surveys were undertaken as early as possible whilst keeping to best practice standards.

No great crested newts were found during any of the six survey visits to site. We therefore concluded that the positive eDNA result was an indication of a small population or an individual newt.  We proposed that a Precautionary Method of Works would be an appropriate approach, rather than applying for a Natural England licence and lengthy mitigation procedure. The local authority ecologist agreed with our approach, and based on our PMW granted the planning application in June 2016.