GCN success at Crawley Down


As part of the detailed planning approval for the site, a full ecological assessment was conducted by CSA Environmental in 2019 which included a review of original surveys undertaken in 2015 for the outline planning application. Although the pond on site tested positive for great crested newt (GCN) eDNA in 2019, no GCN were recorded during surveys, only “small newts” were recorded (peak counts of thirteen palmate and smooth newt).

A GCN mitigation licence was obtained through Natural England to permit the development works. The existing pond was enhanced through vegetation management to decrease shading, which has allowed much more aquatic vegetation to flourish, for newts to shelter and lay eggs in. The timber from tree clearance works were used to make several log piles and hibernacula to benefit amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals. Additionally, a new wildlife pond was created in the west of the site, as well as SuDS basins. These habitats are all linked by swales and a wildlife tunnel which runs underneath the new road and provides safe passage for a range of wildlife.

The first GCN post-development monitoring survey was conducted in 2023. These surveys recorded an explosion in the numbers of all newt species. Peak counts of 17 GCN, including a number of juveniles, and 78 smooth/palmate newts were recorded in the on-site pond.

Camera monitoring of the new wildlife tunnel showed it to be particularly popular with the resident badgers, who used it as a safe way of moving underneath the road.

Monitoring surveys will continue until 2027, when more positive outcomes for GCN populations are expected and we hope to see the populations continue to rise.