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Great crested newt district licensing scheme

Developments within 500 metres of a pond

Great crested newts have protected status through UK and European legislation and must be considered as part of the planning application process.

Ponds are critical to great crested newts for breeding. Whilst on land, great crested newts are also dependent upon other habitats such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland and scrub, and may travel up to 500 metres between ponds.

You will need a licence to carry out development work where great crested newts are 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.

Planning permission is required before a licence application is made to Natural England.

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.

If great crested newts are subsequently discovered during construction, all works must stop and Natural England contacted for advice. A licence application may subsequently need to be submitted to Natural England for approval before works can re-start.

The District Licensing Route

A development can be authorised under our great crested newt district licence (approved by Natural England). The applicant does not necessarily need to obtain any great crested newt surveys and would be licensed (with certain obligations) to start works without applying for a separate licence from Natural England. If great crested newts are found during works, they can be moved out of harm’s way (to best practice mitigation principles) without having to stop works and apply for a Natural England licence.

The scheme is voluntary and is delivered on our behalf by NatureSpace and The Newt Conservation Partnership.

The applicant should contact NatureSpace who will conduct an assessment to confirm that the development is eligible for the scheme. You can also call them on 01865 688307 or email

The applicant should apply to join the scheme before planning permission is granted.

Once a developer has joined the scheme, NatureSpace carry out a metric assessment and identify what level of compensation is required. Off-site compensation, monitoring and long-term habitat management is delivered by The Newt Conservation Partnership. Compensation effort is focused on key high-quality habitats as part of a landscape-scale conservation plan for great crested newts.

All associated costs in joining the scheme are dependent on the development size, location (where it is sited on the Impact Risk Map) and impacts (the metric assessment). These are confirmed by NatureSpace once the developer has joined the scheme and before planning permission is granted by us.

Further details regarding habitat creation and conservation benefits can be found in the latest monitoring report.