Ecological consultant

You have an important role to play. Together we can create sustainable habitats for newts.

Licensing for great crested newts has gained a reputation for being slow, complex, disproportionately expensive and ineffective at properly mitigating and compensating for development impacts – and despite all this, the conservation status of great crested newts has not improved. 

Waiting for the survey season can cause significant delay to your client’s timetable and the separate process for licensing adds another frustrating delay. Lengthy, tightly specified fencing, trapping, translocation, compensation habitat, monitoring and management simply add to pre-development delays and long term responsibilities and costs for developers.

NatureSpace’s District Licensing Scheme minimises the delay and simplifies the process in a streamlined system, bringing licensing and planning together. It ties development impacts to the Council’s own District Licence, through planning conditions and an authorisation process through the Council. Once planning consent is granted the Council can authorise your use of the licence with no need for a separate application to Natural England. 

We run a desk-based assessment, based on a Phase 1 or PEA provided by you, the client’s qualified ecologist. The licence doesn’t require additional specific newt survey data, but this can still be submitted as part of the application if available. We complete a site assessment and Natural England-approved metric and send an assessment summary to you outlining the exact costs and any mitigation requirements within 10 working days. Upon payment, we issue a report that is submitted in support of the planning application.

The report details the fee required to compensate for the development impacts of the proposed development and our conservation partners then create and manage high quality habitat off-site in optimum locations for newt conservation. For higher impact schemes, some on-site mitigation may be required (e.g. ecological supervision, seasonal restrictions, capture requirements) and/or on-site compensation to reduce the net impacts of the scheme or a requirement. 

Once planning consent is granted, and any outstanding monies are received, the client is given a NatureSpace certificate and the Council will then issue the developer a written authorisation to use the District Licence. To make the process even quicker, outstanding monies can be paid pre-consent to enable simultaneous authorisation alongside planning consent. 

That’s it! 

NatureSpace – quick, simple, certain and sustainable

pond

Supports long term conservation

10 day

Receive your report within 10 days

  • Ecological consultant FAQs
    • How does the scheme work?

      Developers contact NatureSpace and pay into the scheme which provides a certificate (or report) that they can submit with their planning application. Any future impacts that they have on newts are then covered under the ‘District Licence’.

      The charge to developers is proportionate to their likely impact on great crested newt populations, depending on where the development is and how large it is. NatureSpace’s impact risk map highlights the impact in each area using a colour-grading system from white to red.

      Where the likely impacts on newts are low (especially in the white and green risk zones – 60% of the region) the developer will pay a one-off charge and receive a certificate. The certificate concludes that the development can be authorised under the scheme and that no further actions are necessary with respect to great crested newts.

      When the impacts of development are potentially higher (either because the development is large or because it is situated in a red or amber zone – see map), then the developer pays a standard fee to NatureSpace to analyse the specific details of the development. In many cases, this analysis will show that no further payments are necessary, and the developer will simply submit the NatureSpace report alongside the planning application. In some cases, though, where it is found that significant impact is likely, the developer will be required to make a second payment, and this must be done at least 6 months before development begins on-site

       

    • What information is needed for a development assessment? / What information do I need to get started?

      To take the first step, you will need a qualified ecologist to fill out an application form to provide an overview of the development and which habitats and aquatic features will be impacted onsite. Details of any surveys already carried out should also be included. As well as the application form and assessment fee, the following maps should be supplied (GIS files where possible):

      Site boundary
      Location of all ponds onsite and within 500m of the site
      Phase 1 survey data for the site
      Impact plan (which areas will be retained and lost*)
      Designated and protected sites on or adjacent to site (if applicable)
      *  The Impacts plan should be fixed and not subject to change – this plan will be referenced in the planning consent if granted.

      There are no newts on or near to my development site, so why should I pay?

      Our scheme operates over an area of the UK which is a great crested newt hotspot, the majority of the area being located within 500 metres of a pond (walking distance for a newt).
      If your development site is within 500m of a pond, traditionally you would need to commission a great crested newt survey to find out if newts or newt habitats would be impacted as part of the proposal – it is a material planning consideration.
      Under the NatureSpace scheme you do not need to complete any additional survey work to find out whether newts are present.
      The amount you pay is fair – it is dependent upon the location and scale of the proposed development.
      Choosing to cover your development under the District Licence, you remove the risk of having to stop work if you find newts on-site at later stages of development – under the District Licence, if you do find a newt, you can move it and carry on works immediately.
      Even in the green and white zones, where there is a lower risk of newts, if you do not have a licence and then find a newt, you would need to stop work and seek a licence from Natural England, causing lengthy and costly delays on site. It is worth opting to cover the development under the Local Planning Authority’s District Licence, as this can save valuable time lost (and money spent) during later works if great crested newts are present.

    • What if there are newts on or near to my development site?

      Under the District Licensing Scheme, you are allowed to undertake certain licensable activities (such as removing newt habitat, moving newts, etc.). In any zone, if there are newts on your site, you can move them under the licence.

      • In the highest risk areas (red zones), you may have a requirement need as part of the licence scheme to catch newts and move them away from harm before you can continue on-site. In exceptional cases, the development site may be of such importance to the newt population that you may have to retain habitat for the newts.
      • If you are not using the District Licensing Scheme then you need to ensure you have considered newts as part of the planning application and commissioned surveys/mitigation plans as required.
    • Can I publicise my involvement in the scheme as a green, CSR initiative?

      Yes, NatureSpace would be pleased to help with a range of publicity material, should developers wish to publicise their financial support of our long-term landscape-scale great crested newt conservation strategy.

    • Is there any on-site mitigation undertaken under the scheme?

      In most cases, no.

      Some mitigation requirements can be triggered in the red zone only (e.g. timing restrictions, trapping, ECoW supervision) dependent on the level of impact, but on-site requirements are invariably reduced when compared to the site-based approach.

      If site based mitigation is required, this can sometimes involve trapping of newts. The requirements for trapping out exercises for newts are between 30/60/90 days with no captures in the last five days. Under the District Licensing Scheme, we require focused trapping efforts for a time frame of 25 days with a five-day low capture at the end.

    • What information is needed for a development assessment?

      A suitably qualified ecologist will be needed to fill out an application form to provide an overview of the development including which habitats and aquatic features will be impacted onsite. Details of any surveys already carried out should also be included. As well as the application form and assessment fee, the following maps should be supplied (GIS files where possible):

      • Site boundary
      • Location of all ponds onsite and within 500m of the site
      • Phase 1 survey data for the site
      • Impact plan (which areas will be retained and lost*)
      • Designated and protected sites on or adjacent to the site (if applicable)

       

      *  The Impacts plan should be fixed and not subject to change – this plan will be referenced in the planning consent if granted.

    • Are there any guidance documents available for practitioners to advise their clients, when using the District Licensing Scheme?

      Yes, the scheme’s Great Crested Newt Mitigation Principles and Best Practice Principles can be found in our Resources Hub. We are always happy to discuss any questions over the phone if preferred.
      We recommend that the Best Practice Principles are followed for all developments in all zones. The great crested newt Mitigation Principles are mandatory only in red zone sites.

       

    • Can reptile fencing be used as a crossover mitigation method?

      In the red zone, where it is a requirement that the great crested newt Mitigation Principles are followed, then any amphibian fencing needs to conform to the usual industry standards for amphibian fencing as detailed in the Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines (English Nature 2011).

      (the NatureSpace Great Crested Newt Mitigation Principles written specifically for the scheme use this guide as a reference).

      In Amber, Green or White zones, where fencing is recommended, it should still follow best practice guidance – and be designed and installed according to the guidance in the Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines. If reptile fencing is used on a development site as a reptile mitigation method and newts are also found, providing the development site is covered by a District Licence, then any newts also captured in this crossover method can still be moved.

    • When should an application for district licensing be submitted?

      Our District Licensing Scheme uses planning conditions to tie a development to the scheme. You can submit an enquiry and talk to us at any point during the planning application process before consent is granted, just leave at least a couple of weeks before your decision date for our assessment to be completed.

      We can assess outline, full and reserve matters applications. If you already have consent, there may be a licensing pathway to use our scheme but it will involve a consultation delay within the relevant Council.

    • How does it work?

      Developers contact NatureSpace and pay for a certificate (or report) that they submit with their planning application. Any future impact that they have on newts is then covered under the District Licence.

       

      The charge to developers is proportionate to their likely impact on great crested newt populations, which depends on where the development is and how large it is. Where the likely impact on newts is low (especially in the white and green risk zones – 60% of the region – see map), the developer will pay NatureSpace a one-off charge and receive a certificate. This certificate means that no further actions are necessary with respect to great crested newts.

       

      When the impact of development is potentially higher (either because the development is large or because it is situated in a red or amber zone – see map), then the developer pays a standard fee to NatureSpace to analyse the specific details of the development. In many cases, this analysis will show that no further payments are necessary, and the developer will simply submit the NatureSpace report alongside their planning application. In some cases, where it is found that significant impact is likely, the developer will be required to make a second payment, and this must be done at least 6 months before development begins on-site.

    • What information is needed for an assessment?

      You will need a qualified ecologist to fill out an application form to provide an overview of the development and which habitats and aquatic features will be impacted onsite. Details of any surveys already carried out should also be included. As well as the application form and assessment fee, the following maps should be supplied (GIS files where possible):

      Site boundary;

      • Location of all ponds onsite and within 500m of the site
      • Phase 1 survey data for the site
      • Impact plan (which areas will be retained and lost*)
      • Designated and protected sites on or adjacent to the site (if applicable)

       

      *  The Impacts plan should be fixed and not subject to change – this plan will be referenced in the planning consent if granted.

    • What happens if I find newts on site during works?

      Under the District Licence, you are covered to pick up newts and move them to a safe location away from the works. That means that with NatureSpace, there’s no need to stop work.

    • Do applicants need to complete recommended great crested newt specific surveys?

      No – the applicant will not need to commission specific great crested newt surveys for their application, they can apply via NatureSpace all year round.

      The applicant will need to undertake a basic Phase One Habitat Survey to advise NatureSpace on the basic ecological requirements of the site. More specific information can be supplied but is not necessary; the more information NatureSpace have to assess the site, allows for more refinement of the metric process and a more proportional cost under the scheme.

    • What happens if an applicant subsequently finds newts during planning or after permission has been granted?

      If the applicant has chosen to use the District Licensing Scheme, then once they become authorised, they are permitted to carry out certain activities as per the licence conditions. If a newt is discovered during construction works, they will not have to stop work or complete any further mitigation works.

      As long as the development is adhering to planning permission and licence conditions, finding a newt will not affect the development.

      For specific cases please contact us to discuss.

    • Do applicants need to include compensation, management and monitoring as part of their planning application?

      Once an applicant has joined the NatureSpace scheme and they have become authorised, in most cases developments will not be required to have any mitigation. In some very high impact sites, there may be some mitigation requirements (e.g. timing restrictions, habitat retention) but these are invariably reduced in comparison to traditional licence requirements.

      Under the licence, the applicant is also not required to provide any great crested newt compensatory habitat, complete any management or monitoring. All of this work is taken away from the developer and completed by NatureSpace and their partner organisation, the Newt Conservation Partnership. There are no long-term responsibilities regarding newts for the development site or for the Local Planning Authority.

    • Why should applicants consider using the scheme if their development is in a low risk zone?

      Great crested newts are a European Protected Species, which means that if a development falls within 500m of a pond or waterbody the developer should be considering newts as a material consideration for planning.
      70% of the South Midlands Region falls within this 500m radius guideline, which means that as part of the application, the applicant should be providing information to show that newts have been considered by completing a survey .

      If the applicant chooses to use the District Licence scheme, they would not need to complete any extra survey requirements as NatureSpace has already completed them on their behalf. By covering their development under the scheme, they remove the risk of having to stop works if newts are found at a later date, whilst contributing to a long term, landscape wide conservation strategy.

      Even in areas where there is less risk of newts being present due to less suitable habitat, the scheme gives the Local Planning Authority (as well as the applicant) complete certainty that if a newt does turn up at any point, development doesn’t need to stop. The applicant is already licenced to complete activities affecting great crested newts and their habitats.

    • Currently this scheme isn’t available in my Local Planning Authority, how can we introduce it?

      We are always looking to extend the reach of the NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme. In order to get it up and running in your Local Planning Authority, we can support you through the process of joining the scheme – right through from the initial stages, writing the applications, as well as the ongoing delivery and administrative work once you have joined.

      Find out more from current Local Authority, Aylesbury Vale District Council on the process of district licensing and how it’s helped them to speed up development delivery.

      If you would like to find out more, please contact Sarah Garratt, our Conservation Director.

  • Ecological consultant Case Study
  • Ecological consultant NEWS

    Update on our ‘free upfront assessments’ for great crested newt District Licensing

    We’re delighted that the free ‘upfront’ assessment option has proven to be very popular with developers, but the popularity has led to a huge waiting list – mainly because we have to, as advertised, prioritise paid-for impact assessments ahead of free assessments.

    READ MORE >

    NatureSpace marks 4th anniversary by celebrating national success of its District Licensing Scheme

    Last week, NatureSpace celebrated the fourth year of its ground-breaking great crested newt District Licensing Scheme, with almost 200 projects authorised, 148 ponds created, and more than £1.5 million put towards conservation so far.

    The scheme, which offers a simple and streamlined solution for great crested newt mitigation, provides developers with a quick, straightforward, and risk-free solution to newt mitigation, as well as hugely improved conservation outcomes for the species.

    To date, the scheme is active in over 40 Local Authorities and has overseen some major development, with some of the biggest including Abbey New Homes in Milton Keynes, Bloor Homes in Buckinghamshire, and Wainhomes Severn Valley in Tewkesbury.

    The great crested newt population has declined dramatically in the UK over the last 50 years. Despite protection under UK and European wildlife law, numbers are still declining, and habitat loss is their biggest threat.

    READ MORE >

    Great crested newt District Licence Scheme expands across Buckinghamshire

    Today, NatureSpace announced the expansion of its innovative District Licensing Scheme for great crested newts across the whole of Buckinghamshire.

    READ MORE >

    Recruiting for 2 Technical Officers

    £28,000 pa + company benefits
    Full time, annual contracts (with the strong expectation of renewal), start date 4th April 2022.


    The closing date for applications is 5pm on 4th February 2022
    You will be notified by 14th February if you have been selected for interview.
    Interviews will be held (probably virtually) on 22nd February.

    (Two identical posts)

    READ MORE >

    Great crested newt conservation scheme expands across Staffordshire

    NatureSpace is now offering developers across Staffordshire the opportunity to join an established scheme providing a quick, simple, and certain solution for meeting their legal obligations to great crested newts – whilst delivering real conservation benefits at the same time. This month, the company is announcing the scheme’s expansion into eight new Local Planning Authorities across Staffordshire.

    READ MORE >

    New conservation scheme for great crested newts comes to East Sussex

    NatureSpace today announced the expansion of its innovative District Licensing Scheme for great crested newts into eight new Local Planning Authorities across East Sussex. The scheme provides developers in the area with a quick, simple and risk-free solution and ensures hugely improved conservation outcomes for newts.

    READ MORE >

    Recruiting for a Data Officer

    NatureSpace are recruiting for a Data Officer – to find out more please read below:

    READ MORE >

    Great crested newt conservation scheme expands into Northamp-tonshire

    NatureSpace is now offering even more developers the opportunity to join an innovative scheme which provides a quick, simple, certain and sustainable solution for meeting their legal obligations to great crested newts – and delivers a great conservation scheme at the same time. Today the company is announcing the scheme’s expansion into Northamptonshire.

    READ MORE >

    Recruiting for 4 Newt Officer positions

    Naturespace are hiring for 4 new newt officer roles – to find out more on both positions please read below:

    READ MORE >

    NatureSpace introduces free site assessments for great crested newts

    NatureSpace is now offering free, no-obligation upfront site assessments for applicants that are considering the use of the District Licensing Scheme to deal with great crested newts in their development project.

    READ MORE >