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use of arable land during hibernation

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Katia Bresso View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Nov 2010 at 10:55am

Does anyone has good reliable information about usage of arable land (in use, cabbage crop I think) by GCNs during hibernation.

Basically, I am wondering whether undertaking pile driving work and some trenching would be acceptable within arable land, without a licence, during the hibernation season. GCNs are known to be present in a pond within 100m. it's in Kent

thanks in advance

Katia Bresso - self employed consultant
http://www.kbecology.co.uk/
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Liz Heard View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2010 at 6:36pm
hi katia,

sounds dodgy im afraid. ive found GCNs some distance from breeding pools (200m or more and even UPhill) and, on arable land, found them hiding in the recesses built for water stopcocks. they travel surprising distances!

ben
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Katia Bresso View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Katia Bresso Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2010 at 9:33am

Thanks Ben.

Sorry, I should have been more specific: I am actually talking about actively cultivated arable land, without anything else but crops (not including grass strips or other associated features).

I am sure GCNs will be travelling through the land and even foraging at times but I am wondering about the actual strict hibernation season (Nov to Jan only, when no newt movement as per guidelines _ I know, there are always exceptions to this 'rule'...).

I am expecting that newts will not be hibernating within the actively cultivated arable cropped areas as there is no dense vegetation, fissures, leaf litter, tree roots, mammal burrows, deadwood or rubble piles for them to keep away from frost or flooding.

But this is quite a statement and I could really do with some backing up if there is information about this.. For or against!! I know this is tricky territory... any feedback would be most welcome

Katia Bresso - self employed consultant
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2010 at 12:54pm
Hi Katia,

I can't back up or refute the logic behind this. However, in my experience it will simply be a no no.

I had a similar situation a few years back where the client wanted to do some test bore holes under watching brief. Though my logic was it was extremely low risk to GCN the simple answer was no from NE until mitigation had been completed.

On reflection it was the correct approach. The problem is if we establish workarounds during the course of our activities others may be tempted to take them to extremes.. Though for example I viewed the work as less impact than installing newt fencing the fact is client cost and time should never be factors.

The route though would be to discuss the issue with your local NE team. In all I would now be of a stance of never rule out GCN in an area where presence is established, too many times I've thought, I would never find GCN in a particular area, only to have one pop up and wave at me.

There is no real fixed hibernation either, they can be out and about foraging on warmer damp winter evenings so could well be ranging into a crop field. So I certainly would not approach this with a high confidence of there being no chance of GCN presence. One would not for example see mowed utility grassland as great GCN habitat but go torch it on a warm winters evening and one can often find GCN out in the open foraging under the cover of darkness.


Edited by GemmaJF
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Katia Bresso View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Katia Bresso Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2010 at 2:52pm

Thanks Gemma. that's useful. Thing is I have mentioned it to one officer of the local NE team and he seemed to think it made sense but he also said I should talk to licensing which I tried but they won't speak to you unless you have a licence application with them...

 

Katia Bresso - self employed consultant
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2010 at 11:21am
Hi Katia,

As the project is in Kent discuss with LB, he'll provide the necessary insight in grey areas to guide you to make the right decisions. If it is development led though which I'm guessing from the works you described it is, why not simply do under licence and avoid the potential risks?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote herpetologic2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2010 at 3:50pm
The most recent case I know about where newts were found
in ploughed farmed fields is Popley Ponds in Basingstoke
where they fenced off arable fields and went through the
motions of trapping it out for 30 days you know there
would be very few newts in a ploughed field.

Well several hundreds days on and over 3,000 newts the
ecologists were shocked to say the least. The newts came
out of the ploughed field in huge numbers mainly young
animals I think.

As you are within 100metres of a pond then the case for
not excluding newts diminishes somewhat - You could carry
out a survey using pitfall traps and drift fences during
mild wet weather - to establish presence within work
areas - you can do this under a survey license - if you
find newts then you will need to have a mitigation
license - then again what impact does the work have on
the newts? is it really necessary to license the rescue
of newts from unsuitable habitat and place them into more
suitable habitats prior to trenching etc?

This is where the protection for the individual newt
falls down as killing a few newts would not adversely
affect the conservation status of the population -
especially if your diggers have been poised to restore
their breeding pond or create a brand new breeding pond -
any losses to the few in the field would be more than
compensated with a new pond plus follow up monitoring and
management.

I can quote from Natural England's GCN method statement
                  
'Natural England is concerned about the trend for
increasingly risk-averse mitigation for several reasons.
Primarily, there is no legal need, and little benefit to
great crested newt conservation, in undertaking
mitigation where there are no offences through
development.
Even where there technically is an offence, such as the
destruction of a small, distant area of resting place
habitat, or even killing low numbers of newts, it is
arguable that impacts beyond the core area often have
little or no tangible impact on the viability of
populations. Mitigation in such circumstances is of
questionable value in conservation terms. There are,
however, substantial costs: developers delay projects and
spend large sums on mitigation. Sometimes the mitigation
project itself has environmental costs, especially when
it entails substantial lengths of newt fencing. In some
cases long newt fences are employed with no
justification. Natural England wishes to see newt fencing
used more appropriately, i.e. only where there is a
reasonable risk of capturing, containing and/or excluding
newts.'


Though you will find that you are well within the core
area for the newts

J

Edited by herpetologic2
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