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Great crested newt district licensing

Great crested newts and their habitats are legally protected in the UK and must be considered as part of the planning application process.

Great crested newts are dependent upon ponds to breed although they actually spend most of their life on land in places such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland and scrub. They are generally found within 500m of ponds, although they can travel much further than this – up to 1.6km. Unless it can be definitively demonstrated that there is no risk to great crested newts or their habitats, you may need a licence to carry out development work where the species and or its protected habitats are present. There are now three licensing options in the East Sussex County Council area. These are:

  • joining the District Licence Scheme and being authorised by East Sussex County Council as part of the planning application process; or
  • applying directly to Natural England for a licence after you have received planning permission; or
  • by working with a registered ecologist under the low impact class licence

Using the Council’s District Licence – delivered by NatureSpace

East Sussex County Council holds a great crested newt District Licence, granted by Natural England, under which developments can now be authorised. If you wish to use the District Licence, please see the information below,

  • you must apply before or during (not after) the planning application process, otherwise variations to any planning consent will be necessary
  • you can opt into the scheme by contacting NatureSpace to request a free upfront assessment which will determine eligibility and all associated costs, timing and mitigation requirements
  • under the District Licensing Scheme habitat compensation is delivered by the Newt Conservation Partnership, who take on responsibility for the habitat creation as well as long-term monitoring and management, so that developers don’t have to. Compensation through the scheme delivers landscape-scale conservation for great crested newts

For more information, please visit the website for NatureSpace, or contact them using the details below:

Natural England standard mitigation licence

You can apply directly to Natural England for a great crested newt mitigation licence. If you wish to apply directly to Natural England please see the information below:

  • planning permission needs to be in place before a licence application can be made to Natural England
  • newt surveys of ponds within 500m of the development site will need to be carried out during the survey season (mid-March to mid-June) to establish presence or likely absence of great crested newts to inform the planning application and any subsequent licence application. A population size class assessment (involving 6 survey visits throughout the survey season) may also be needed
  • where great crested newts are present, details of surveys, impact assessment, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with the local planning authority as part of a planning application in order to comply with legislation as well as national and local planning policy
  • once planning permission has been granted, a licence application will need to be prepared and submitted to Natural England, including details of impacts, mitigation, compensation, management and monitoring. This would need to demonstrate that compensation will maintain or enhance the great crested newt population

For more information, please visit the website for Natural England or to apply for their mitigation licence.

Non-licensed route

In some cases, risks of impacts on great crested newts may be considered to be so low that a licence is not necessary. If this is the case, a precautionary method of working and reasonable avoidance measures (RAMs) may be appropriate, to avoid offences and avoid the need for a licence. If great crested newts are subsequently discovered, all works must cease, and Natural England must be contacted for advice. A licence is likely to be required before works can recommence. At this stage it may not be possible to access the District Licensing Scheme and a standard mitigation licence may be the only option, depending on what works have been undertaken.

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