Reptiles & Amphibians
All native reptiles are protected under UK law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. They are all listed as priority species for conservation on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The native species present in Cornwall are the grass snake, adder, slow worm and common lizard, although there is a small introduced population of sand lizard on the North Cornish coast. A reptile survey is required for proposed buildings and developments as part of your planning application, where reptiles may be affected.
Reptiles use a wide range of habitats, and can be found on Cornish hedgebanks, rough grassland, heathland and woodland edges. A south-facing sunny slope with open vegetation is a haven for most reptiles! Unfortunately such habitats have been destroyed over the years to make way for developments or due to agricultural changes.
Will I need a reptile survey?
If you plan a development within suitable reptile habitat, then you will need a reptile survey, following the Froglife guidelines for reptile survey. The survey will usually involve the setting out of a series of artificial refuges in the areas of suitable habitat, which will then be checked on seven occasions in suitable weather. This survey can be undertaken between late April and September. A survey will establish the presence/ likely absence of the different species of reptiles on your site and what impact your development may have upon them.
What happens if you find reptiles are using my site?
If we find reptiles using your site, we will recommend suitable mitigation is in place to protect the reptiles before, during and after works. This can consist of retaining suitable areas of habitat within the site design, sensitive timing of works, habitat creation elsewhere on site, or reptile translocation – the capture and release of reptiles to another suitable site before development commences.
The amphibian species encountered in Cornwall are offered limited protection (against sale only) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, the common toad is listed as a priority for Conservation in the UK BAP. Although amphibians are generally common and widespread, they are at threat from loss of suitable habitat – standing water for breeding and joined to suitable areas of terrestrial habitat (such as rough grass, hedges and scrub habitats). They do contribute to biodiversity, and can be an important part of the diet of animals such as the otter.
For sites outside Cornwall and west Devon, Great Crested Newts may be present within suitable habitat. Great Crested Newts are an EPS, offered the same level of protection as bats, etc. It is important to survey for Great Crested Newts as early as possible if your proposals have the potential to affect them because suitable mitigation will need to be designed, and an EPS licence be in place before any site works can start.
Will I need an amphibian survey?
An amphibian survey may be required if the development is likely to affect breeding ponds for amphibians, to make sure that amphibians are taken into account during planning. If the development is not close to any standing water, amphibians may still be recorded incidentally during reptile surveys, as amphibians, particularly toads, are often attracted to the artificial refuges that we use to survey for reptiles.
Undertaking an amphibian survey of a waterbody to show presence/ likely absence of the different species involves several visits to the site in spring, when amphibians will be breeding and most visible. The visits will combine a number of survey techniques including daytime searching for eggs, netting for amphibians and night-time torch surveys of the waterbody(ies).
What happens if amphibians are using my site?
Mitigation for the presence of amphibians will need to be considered if amphibians are present, this is likely to involve ensuring that there is suitable habitat left within the site as part of the design, creating new habitats and sensitive timing of works.
Should Great Crested Newts be present (not Cornwall & west Devon) and likely to be affected by the proposals, then EPS licensing would need to be in place (setting out the detailed mitigation) before works can commence.
Back to Protected Species Survey