Natural England has announced that the existing District Level Licensing scheme for Great Crested Newts will more than double in size to include a total of 69 local authorities. Another 37 local authorities are included across Essex, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Greater Manchester, South Midlands and parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire as of the 25th February 2020.
Great Crested Newt District Level Licensing moves away from the current site-by-site approach to a more strategic, landscape-scale system. This new approach identifies geographic risk ‘zones’ based on Great Crested Newt populations and the presence of suitable habitat and applies a tariff based approach to mitigation. This may save developers time and costs. District Licensing largely negates the need to submit survey data for this species with planning applications. This can overcome seasonal survey restrictions which can beset schemes and allows sites to be moved forward out of season where no data is held by the developer on local Great Crested Newt populations.
However, District Licensing may not be the most cost effective or timely approach in all circumstances and it should be noted that the standard site based approach to Great Crested Newt assessment (and if necessary licensing) is still available for use.
Aspect Ecology has considerable direct knowledge of this new approach. We have provided information to a number of developers and planning authorities regarding District Licensing. We also submitted the first District Licence application through NatureSpace. NatureSpace is the delivery partner for the South Midlands District Licence with Natural England providing District Level licensing for the remaining areas, with subtle differences between the two providers in terms of times scales and costs.
If you would like to know more about District Licensing please contact us for further information.