Safeguarding a protected species

Great crested newts have declined dramatically in the UK over the last 50 years and although still widespread across lowland England they are no longer common. Despite protection under UK and European wildlife law, numbers are still declining, and habitat loss is sadly their biggest threat.

After a DEFRA paper was published in 2013 examining the fate of great crested newt populations, we recognised the need to enable the planning system to deliver long-term, meaningful conservation for great crested newts.

In 2018 the first NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme was launched – set up in partnership with national freshwater and amphibian NGOs as well as seven Local Planning Authorities across the South Midlands.

Since then, our scheme has expanded nationally and now nearly 70 local planning Authorities across Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire and Surrey. With authorities from West Sussex and Hampshire joining in Spring 2023.

Saving your time and money

The standard licensing route for great crested newts often takes months and requires a large amount of evidence to be submitted throughout the process. This often equals a huge delay to getting started on site and has gained great crested newts an unwelcome reputation.

Our scheme offers a simple and quick alternative, available all year-round. There’s no need to wait for the seasonal survey window, no requirement for additional survey information to be provided, and we can deliver a site assessment within just 10 working days.

Our Natural England approved impact assessments ensure developers pay fair and proportionate fees for their proposed development impacts, with money going straight into habitat creation, delivered by our NGO partners off-site. These compensatory habitats are created in strategic locations for newts, away from the pressures of development. Our partners create, manage and monitor these aquatic and terrestrial habitats long-term, ensuring a sustainable future for newts.