Great crested newt district licensing scheme

Development within 500 metres of a pond

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 500 metres of ponds, although they can travel much further than this, up to 1.6km.

Great crested newts and their habitats are legally protected in the UK. Planning authorities must consider the species as part of the planning process. Developers must be careful not to break the law.

Where impacts may arise, developers should get a licence to make the activities lawful. This is usually in addition to the planning process.

The Isle of Wight Council holds a District Licence. This means you can buy the two types of licenses together in a quicker and simpler process.

Natural England have produced a District Level Licensing for development projects guidance document  for all planning authorities using the District Licensing Scheme. Local planning authorities identify where great crested newts are likely to be by using the ‘Impact Risk Zone’ maps provided on the NatureSpace Partnership website.

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. Unless it can be demonstrated that there is no risk of impacts on great crested newts or their habitats, you may need a licence to carry out development work where the species is present.

District Licensing Options

There are three licensing options in on the Isle of Wight. These are:

  1. Joining the District Licence Scheme authorised by the Isle of Wight Council; or
  2. Applying directly to Natural England for a licence; or
  3. By working with a registered ecologist under the low impact class licence.

1: Joining the Isle of Wight Council’s district licence scheme delivered by NatureSpace

The Isle of Wight 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, you must apply before or during (not after) the planning 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. The assessment 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. They take on responsibility for the habitat creation as well as long-term monitoring and management. This so that developers don’t have to. Compensation through the scheme delivers landscape-scale conservation for great crested newts.

For all enquiries about the Isle of Wight district licence scheme please contact:

2: Applying to Natural England for a standard mitigation licence

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. The season is mid-March to mid-June. This is to establish presence/likely absence of great crested newts. A population size class assessment (involving 6 survey visits throughout the survey season) may be needed.

Where great crested newts are present, details of surveys, impact assessment, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted. They must be agreed with the local planning authority as part of a planning application. This is 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. You need to include details of impacts, mitigation, compensation, management and monitoring. This would need to demonstrate (amongst other things) that compensation will not be detrimental to the great crested newt population.

3: Low impact class licence

In some cases, risks of impacts may be considered to be so low that a licence is not necessary. This may involve a precautionary method of working and reasonable avoidance measures (RAMs) to avoid offences and avoid the need for a licence.

If great crested newts are subsequently discovered, all works must stop, and Natural England must be contacted for advice. It is illegal to move great crested newts without a licence. 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. A standard mitigation licence may be the only option, depending on what works have been undertaken.