Scheme to protect great crested newts expands across the country.
Natural England has announced today (25 February) that an innovative and strategic approach to great crested newt licensing is being rolled out across 37 local authorities in Essex, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Greater Manchester, South Midlands, and parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Great crested newts have seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years despite being protected under UK and EU law, with approximately 50% of ponds in the UK lost in the 20th Century. It is an offence to disturb the species, and landowners or housing developers must apply for a licence before undertaking any building work on or around its pond habitat.
The ‘District Level Licensing’ scheme better protects this iconic, orange-bellied amphibian by working at a landscape rather than at site-by-site scale and using conservation payments from developers to create new habitats in locations that will benefit the species.
The scheme also benefits local people and authorities by avoiding costly delays for developers, helping to ensure homes are built and local authorities can deliver their plans.
The ‘District Level Licensing’ (DLL) scheme is currently already available across 32 local authorities in Woking, South Midlands, Kent and Cheshire. Today’s move means that developers and consultants will be able to access the scheme across a further 37 local authorities, more than doubling its availability.
Jen Almond, Natural England’s District Level Licensing Programme Manager said: “I am delighted to announce the further expansion of our scheme. District Level Licensing is transforming an area of regulation from one that has been problematic for great crested newts and people into a real conservation success story.”
The scheme is already being successfully being adopted by developers across the country. Barratt Homes’ Chilmington Green Development was the very first development in Kent to join the scheme there. Once complete, Chilmington Green will include over 5,500 new homes, four primary schools, land for community and leisure use, open green space, and local recycling facilities, as well as six new ponds placed in the best locations for great crested newts.