Get in Touch Menu

Newts v wet feet - potential impact of the Wildlife and Countryside Act

27 June 2008

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can have an impact on building work close to or adjoining any waterways.

Under the Act, it is an offence to intentionally kill or injure various species of plants, animals or birds that are in danger of extinction or to interfere with places used for shelter and protection by them.

The protection of the WCA covers many species including otters, newts, frogs, toads, snails and water voles.

New legislation came into force in England in April 2008 extending the level of protection. It is now an offence, even if unintentional damage has been caused to an endangered species or its habitat, if it is reasonable to expect that the person who caused the damage, should have foreseen it as a consequence of their actions.

Before this new legislation came into force, it was only necessary to prove that the damage caused was intentional for an offence to have been committed.

In a recent case, a Wiltshire couple was ordered not to clear an overgrown ditch that had caused their farmhouse to flood several times. The ditch, they were told, might be a habitat for the great crested newt and would have to be assessed for potential damage to the creature’s habitat.

The check is likely to take months and in the meantime the farmhouse will continue to be at risk of flooding.

As always, if you need pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

Contact us


Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

Property protocol forms updated to reflect building safety legislation


The Law Society protocol forms provide guidance in respect of sale and purchase transactions, designed to assist with making the conveyancing process transparent and effective. Recently, key property protocol forms…

Suzanne O'Riordan
Partner, conveyancer (non-solicitor)

First-time buyer? Stamp duty tax cuts revealed


In the government’s recent growth plan, announced by the former chancellor on Friday 23 September, it was revealed that first-time buyers will only pay stamp duty land tax on homes…


Buying on an estate? Beware of rentcharges


Recently, the government said it intends to ban the sale of houses on a leasehold basis; to put an end to the practice of developers imposing escalating ground rents and…

Contact us