There are 4 species of newt present within the UK, the smooth or common newt, the palmate, the alpine and the great crested.
Newts are amphibians which amongst other things means that they are cold blooded and have an aquatic larval stage effectively meaning that they breed in water but spend the rest of the time living on land.
From a development / works perspective of these four it is only the great crested that receives legal protection primarily due to its listing on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annexes II and IV of the EU Natural Habitats Directive, Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation 2010 and under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as Amended). In Scotland they’re protected under Schedule 2 of the Conservation Regulations 1994 (as amended).
In effect this makes it an offense to:
* Intentionally or deliberately capture, kill, or injure GCN
* Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy, and disturb GCN in a place used for shelter or protection, or obstruct access to such areas
* Damage or destroy a GCN breeding site or resting place
The larvae of GCN or efts as they’re correctly termed aren’t dissimilar to tadpoles however are far less mobile and tend to float around more so than other species of newt meaning that GCN rarely breed in flowing water due to the efts getting washed away. GCN even as adults rarely enter flowing water and so a stream or river act as an effective barrier.
Whilst the levels of protection afforded to GCN may seem excessive given how commonly they are recorded during works and it’s certainly true that within England, specifically the midlands region they’re far from rare, on a European and global level they are far from common largely due to agricultural intensification including hedgerow removal and pond drainage / filling in.