A site where a pond is situated is threatened, what can be done?
Ponds themselves are not legally protected but some of the species that use them are.
Local authorities should specify that a survey should be undertaken to check for rare species (particularly Great Crested Newts) before a development can take place. It’s important to inform the planning authority if you know of the following species existing in or around the pond:
- Great Crested Newt.
- Grass Snake.
- Common Toad.
- Natterjack Toad (unlikely to be found in habitats other than sand dunes of heathland).
For information on amphibians and reptiles locally you should contact your local Biological Records Centre. If you have records make sure they are submitted to these groups, and/or record your sightings through our free Dragon Finder app.
What does the law say regarding garden ponds?
There are three areas of the law that relate to garden ponds. These are as follows:
Moving plants and animals between ponds
You should always get permission from any pond-owner should you intend to transfer species between ponds. Movement of some species, if protected or considered damaging to native wildlife, is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Transferring fish and some amphibians may also require a licence or consent. Seek advice at every opportunity from the Environment Agency, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage. Generally, Froglife does not recommend moving things between ponds unless absolutely necessary as you risk accidentally spreading various invasive plants and diseases.
If you have a pond and are moving house, ask the new occupiers if they plan to remove the pond. If this is the case and you have concerns about this process, or if you’re considering filling in your own pond (e.g. due to safety concerns), then ask someone with a garden pond whether they are willing to accept stock. If possible, movements should not be over one mile away. Animals should never be released onto a nature reserve or public place without consent. Release of animals in an unauthorised place could make you liable for prosecution under the Abandonment of Animals Act 9160. If the pond in question contains Great Crested Newts then seek advice from Natural England (or other relevant body) as this species and its habitats are protected by law (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).
Non-native animals and plants
The release of non-native animals into the wild in the UK is against the law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. For pond species this includes pet turtles and terrapins, such as the red-eared terrapin, and amphibians like the North American bullfrog. If you come across exotic species contact the RSPCA or report your sighting. Laws relating to release of non-native plants are currently more lax, however, we urge the public to be extra vigilant and discourage the purchasing or movement of non-native or hybrid plant species.