Great Crested Newts are both a UK and European Protected Species – it is illegal to kill, disturb or capture them, or to destroy or damage their pond habitats. Since surveys for GCN are seasonally constrained from mid-March to mid-June, it can cause costly delays for developments unless their presence is identified early in the planning process.
Natural England’s new licensing scheme aims to take a larger-scale approach at conservation and mitigation design for great crested newts. In addition to improving the quality and connectivity of great crested newt habitats at a landscape level, this new approach will make things easier for developers.
The new scheme will implement strategically-located compensatory habitats for newts as mitigation for developments. This differs from the old approach, which dealt with licensing on a site-by-site basis and often led to newt habitats being crammed around the edges of development sites, meaning that they were poorly-connected. The new scheme improves on this by ensuring that compensatory habitats will be well-connected and far-better positioned.
As part of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, the scheme was piloted in Kent in 2018, where great crested newts are abundant. Currently, the scheme is now also operational in other areas such as:
- The Cotswolds
- Swindon and Wiltshire
Acer Ecology are ideally placed to provide GCN surveys in these areas from our Cardiff and Bristol offices, as we have done in the past for example in Hereford, Shrewsbury, and the Shropshire Hills.
Additionally, there are plans for the GCN District Level Licensing Approach to be rolled out in more areas of the country in the coming year, for instance northern areas like Northumberland, North Tyneside, Darlington, Hartlepool, and Newcastle upon Tyne.
We are well placed to carry out GCN surveys from our Northumberland office, and can offer licensed specialists to help developments in this area run as smoothly as possible whilst protecting great crested newt populations in line with the new scheme.