Wildlife and Planning
You will need to consider the impact of your proposed development on wildlife; this includes important wildlife habitats and species protected by law.
Great crested newts
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.
Where impacts may arise, developers should obtain a licence to make the activities lawful – this is usually additional to the planning process but where the planning authority holds a District Licence the two can be brought together in a quicker and simpler process.
Natural England has produced guidance for all planning authorities using the District Licensing Scheme that explains that local planning authorities can rely on the ‘Impact Risk Zone’ maps to identify where great crested newts are likely to be. In the higher risk areas (red and amber zones), planning applicants must now set out how risks to great crested newts will be dealt with. This may be through the Council’s District Licensing Scheme, or by applying separately to Natural England for a standard mitigation licence.
Unless it can be definitively demonstrated there is no risk to great crested newts or their habitats, you may need a licence to carry out development work where the species is present. You can get a licence by:
Natural England Licensing Route
Surveys will need to be carried out during the recognised season (mid-March to mid-June) to confirm the presence of great crested newts. A population size class assessment may also be required. Surveys should always be carried out by suitably qualified and experienced ecologists.
If the presence of great crested newts is confirmed, details of surveys, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with us as part of a planning application. This is necessary to comply with legislation as well as national and local planning policy.
Once planning permission has been granted, an application (including details of impacts, mitigation, compensation and monitoring) will need to be prepared and submitted to Natural England. This would need to demonstrate that compensation will restore, grow or enhance the great crested newt population.
District Licensing Route
The Council holds a district-wide licence granted by Natural England allowing developers to be authorised to undertake works which may impact great crested newts. NatureSpace Partnership is the Council’s delivery partner for the district licence.
You can opt into the scheme by contacting NatureSpace Partnership 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 information about the requirements for planning applications within 7km of Ashdown Forest, please see the Protecting Ashdown Forest page.