Great Crested Newts - Ecology, Survey and Licensing 2022

May 10 - 11, 2022 · Ockley, United Kingdom
Two-day course covering the ID, ecology, survey and legal protection of GCNs.

A two day practical course giving participants an introduction to;

  • The identification and ecology of Great Crested Newts
  • The legislation protecting them
  • Application of the Habitat Suitability Index
  • Survey standards and techniques, including Environmental DNA.
  • Interpretation of survey results
  • Mitigation measures

The course also includes an informal assessment, and on satisfactorily passing this, attendees will be issued with a certificate, which can be used in lieu of one reference for a licence application*

This course offers an introduction to the ID and ecology of GCN, protective legislation, survey techniques, survey standards, what the results of these surveys tell us and what one should do with the information. The course is very much practical and intends to provide an insight into the sorts of hiccups that might be encountered when GCN ‘clash’ with development.

It is essential that attendees remain overnight to accompany the tutor on an evening of torch surveys and to collect in bottle traps the next morning. 

Mitigation measures will be discussed but will only be in the detail that time allows (although a chat over a pint whilst waiting for dark will probably allow plenty of time).

This course is intended for; Consultant Ecologists, Local Authority Ecologists, Park Wardens, Reserve Rangers and Land Managers.

At the end of the course attendees will be issued with a certificate, which can be used as part of a licence application (see below for further details).

Tutor: Jonathan Bradley

About the tutor

Jonathan Bradley has 30 years experience of ‘earthy’ topics. For fifteen years he has run his own ecological consultancy company in South East England, working with anything from wildflowers to barn owls but specialising in trees, bats and planning regulations. He regularly teaches other professionals and students and has worked with volunteer and conservation organisations as a project leader both in the UK and abroad.


If attendees perform satisfactorily in the assessment they will be issued with a certificate which can be used within 3 years in lieu of one of your references for a survey licence. Natural England's guidance on this has been changing over the last few years, but we have had written confirmation that we can issue certificates and these can be used as one reference.

As the guidance is in a constant state of flux we will do our best to let you know if this alters prior to the course, but cannot be responsible for sudden changes in NE's guidance around licensing. The latest advice can be found here.

If you do not need a certificate or already have a licence you can leave the course slightly early at the end.


Day 1

  • 11am Arrival
  • 11.15am–4pm Newt ecology, survey and legislation
  • 4-5.30pm Break / Test for those seeking a reference
  • 5.30–8.00pm Make, assemble and deploy bottle traps
  • 8.10-9.30pm Pub to wait for darkness (and eat supper if you wish)
  • 9.30–10.30pm (ish) Torchlight surveys 

Day 2

  • 8.30-10:30am Return visit to collect traps
  • 10:30-1pm  Continued training for those seeking a certificate

What to bring

  • Waterproof outdoor clothing and wellies (need not be safety wellies but we have NZ pygmyweed on site so must be able to clean footwear easily)
  • Pencil and paper
  • An outdoor chair to sit on, and plenty of warm clothing (this is an outdoor taught course)
  • Pack lunch for Day 1 (we will go to a pub round the corner if people wish to eat before the torching session).
  • For the evening session you will need a powerful torch (>1million candlepower) for the survey work (the tutor can provide some) plus a ‘normal’ torch to get around with. 

Please inform us of any medical requirements/conditions we should be aware of prior to the course. Any problems on the day please call Jonathan Bradley (07785 180656).


To get the most out of the course it is recommended that attendees read up on the subject in advance. Suitable publications are;

Oldham, R.S., Keeble, J., Swan, M.J.S., and Jeffcote, M (2000). Evaluating the Suitability of Habitat for the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus). Herpetological Journal, Vol. 10, pp. 143-155.Froglife (2001). Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook. Froglife, Halesworth.Gent, A.H. and Gibson, S.D. eds (1998). Herpetofauna Workers Manual. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.English Nature (2001). Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines. English Nature, Peterborough.


Meet at car park immediately N of Parrot Inn, Forest Green

Postcode for Satnav: RH5 5RZ

Google map map here

Late arrivals. Field survey site is at RH5 5PN. Enter Pond Head Lane from Mayes Green end GO VERY SLOWLY along Pond Head Lane – nasty bends. Park on edge of bridleway on left at TQ117396 just after Bennett’s Grove, Pond Head Lane, Mayes Green.  Waterbodies to survey are just west of (but not owned by) Pond Head Farm. Landowner is at Bennett’s Grove, the property before Pond Head Farm but do NOT knock/ring on any doors.


While we are unable to specifically recommend anywhere (as even the best hotels can have bad years!); in the past lots of people stayed in Gatton Manor, which is the nearest hotel and made lift-sharing for torching easier. Nobody has complained yet!

Feedback from previous courses

‘Really great pace, very relaxed and yet huge amounts of information packed into it. Jonathan was a fantastic tutor and we were all really looked after.’

‘Very nice setting, enjoyed being able to be outside with informal learning’

‘Great - couldn't have been a nicer setting and plenty of newts to see!’

'I enjoyed the whole experience, there isn't anything I disliked.'

'Great variety and interaction with a laid back atmosphere.'

A charity devoted to saving some of the UK's most endangered species

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