Applied Ecology was employed by Ascot Racecourse to mitigate an adverse risk to great crested newts Triturus cristatus (GCN) associated with a construction project to replace an irrigation pipeline that had reached the end of its operational life between Ascot Racecourse irrigation reservoir and a water pumping station to the east.
The pipeline was 1.2 km in length, had a construction working width of 6 m and an associated temporary loss of 0.29 ha of terrestrial habitat.
GCN were shown to be present in ponds along the pipeline route by eDNA and GCN population survey completed by Applied Ecology, with the nearest GCN pond being located only 3 m from the pipeline construction working area. Applied Ecology registered the development with Natural England’s GCN low impact (WML-CL33) licence scheme, and implemented pragmatic mitigation based on: vegetation cutting in advance of construction; hand searching key areas of the pipeline route; and briefing contractors to ensure the cut and cover pipeline trench was backfilled or covered overnight to minimize the risk of GCN becoming trapped in the trench.
The GCN low impact licencing approach replaced the need for a more conventional GCN mitigation strategy based on the capture and relocation of newts from the construction working area. This ensured that the project was not delayed, and did not incur significant additional costs.