Legal protection was afforded to the GCN at all life stages in response to ongoing declines, primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. Legislation states it is an offence to kill, injure, or take great crested newt individuals. Disturbance is prohibited, and breeding sites and hibernacula are protected. As a protected species, developers are required to survey for GCN and if found, mitigation must be proposed for GCN and their habitat in order to obtain a mitigation licence from the relevant government regulatory agency (e.g. Natural England, NatureScot, Natural Resources Wales) before proceeding with development. Mitigation may relate to methods or timings of work and installation of mitigation strategies.
GCN are listed as an European Protected Species under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017). There are also protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and as a rare and most threatened species under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) (NERC).