Natural England has provided guidance, and a number of examples, as to how costs are calculated for the Great Crested Newt District (GCN) Licensing schemes in Kent and Cheshire. This advises that one of District Level Licensing’s key principles is that four compensation ponds must be created for every one occupied pond lost, to ensure a positive outcome for the favourable conservation status (FCS) of GCN. Natural England require that there will also be no net loss of water bodies in the landscape, so a minimum of a 1:1 ratio of ponds created to ponds lost must always be achieved. These two ratios are complimentary, not additive.
Natural England will assume that all ponds within the red line boundary of the site are to be lost to GCN, although they may be retained for other biodiversity reasons or planning policy. Ponds within 250m of the red line boundary are considered to be proportionally impacted. Each pond has a 250m buffer applied around it and any overlap with the red line boundary is considered lost.
There are two routes into the scheme. The first is to provide survey information and the second is to proceed without it. If choosing the latter path an enhanced compensation multiplier is applied.
Natural England advises that each compensation pond costs £15,165 + VAT. This figure covers the initial creation or restoration and includes everything required to maintain and monitor the pond for its lifetime of 25 years. In addition to the Conservation Payment, a one off upfront fee of £670 + VAT is payable on issue of the Impact Assessment and Conservation Payment Certificate and a licence fee of £690 is required prior to provision of the licence. Natural England has provided three examples of varying scale and impact, to show the likely level of compensation and cost required.
Example 1: A small, low impact development using the ‘no survey’ route
Zero ponds within the red line boundary, two ponds within 250m of the red line boundary. This development is in the amber zone.
Example 2: A medium size and impact development using the ‘survey’ route.
One occupied pond within the red line boundary, two ponds within 250m of the red line boundary, one absent and the other could not be surveyed.
Example 3: A large, high impact development using the ‘no survey’ route.
Three ponds within the red line boundary, six ponds within 250m of the red line boundary. This development is in the amber zone.
This guidance is welcomed and serves to provide applicants with a guide to potential costs prior to an application to Natural England being submitted.