Great Crested Newt District Licensing Scheme
Great Crested newts and their habitats are legally protected in the UK and must be considered as part of the planning process. Although usually found within 500m of a pond which they use for breeding, they spend most of their time on land. Therefore, other habitats are also important to them such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland, and scrub.
The council has been issued with a District wide licence which is regulated by Natural England.
Natural England has produced a guide for all planning authorities using the District Licensing Scheme which explains that local planning authorities can rely on the “impact Risk Zone” maps to identify where great crested newts are likely to be. In the higher risk areas (red and amber zones), planning applicants must now set out how risks to great crested newts will be dealt with.
We will now consult our dedicated newt officer on all major applications, and for any minor and householder schemes where it is considered their may be an impact on great crested newts or their habitats. Comments from the newt officer will then be considered as part of the planning assessment.
You may need a licence to carry out development work where the species may be present, if you can’t demonstrate that there is no risk of impact.
The licensing options are:
- Joining the District Licensing Scheme and being authorised by Horsham District Council as part of the planning process
- Applying directly to natural England
District Licensing Scheme Route
The council has been granted a licence from Natural England, allowing developers to be authorised to undertake works which may affect great crested newts.
The benefits of the District Licensing Scheme are:
- Permission to develop can be authorised at the same time as obtaining planning permission
- You can avoid seasonally dependant surveys for great crested newts
- The scheme helps fund habitat creation.
- The Newt Conservation Partnership take responsibility for long term monitoring and management, so that developers don’t have to.
Naturespace deliver the District Licensing Scheme on the council’s behalf, and you can contact them using the below link for further information or to enter your development into the scheme. They can provide you with a free upfront assessment which will determine if your development is eligible and all costs, time frames and requirements.
Natural England Licensing Route
Planning permission is required before a licence application is made to Natural England.
During the recognised season of mid-March to mid-June surveys will need to be carried out to confirm whether great crested newts are present. The surveys will need to be conducted by experienced and qualified ecologists. A population size class assessment may also be required, involving six survey visits throughout the survey season.
If their presence is confirmed, details of surveys, impact assessment, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with the local planning authority as part of a planning application.
Once planning permission has been granted, a licence application will need to be submitted to Natural England. It will need to include details of impacts, mitigation, compensation, management, and monitoring. You will need to demonstrate that compensation will maintain or enhance the great crested newt population.
Some developments may be considered to have a low risk of impact and a licence not necessary. This may require an ecologist to prepare a precautionary method of working to avoid offences and the requirement of a licence.
If great crested newts are found to be present, all works must cease, and Natural England contacted for advice. It is likely a licence will be required and depending what works have been undertaken access to the District Licensing Scheme may not be possible.