This is the kind of news story that makes it hard to be a conservationist.
"I know it's the law, but it's very frustrating and bordering on the ridiculous that the fate of newts takes precedence over humans."
The British couple in this story from Dauntsey, Wiltshire are understandably frustrated that they are unable to return to their flood-damaged home until the blocked drainage ditch on their property that handles run-off from a nearby motorway is surveyed for rare great crested newts this summer. Rare species legislation generally focuses on species occurrences, regardless of how marginal or human altered the habitat. If you've got newts, you've got issues. This tends to set up an adversarial relationship between critters and people. What incentive is there to provide a safe harbor for rare species on private property when there are no benefits for the landowner to doing so?
This particular case looks like it will resolve itself in a few months, since relocation of any newts that are found is possible under applicable law and the landowners have another suitable site on their property where the newts occur. But as I have said in this space on previous occasions, when human beings are given a choice between our health and well-being and that of other creatures, we generally side with our own species. When we are given no choice, even in compliance we take our own side. There are other options. Community-based conservation is applicable in the developed world as well as the developing.