As of 1stMarch 2019, developers in Kent can now apply for a licence under District Level Licensing (DLL) for Great Crested newts (GCN).
As well as being good for GCN, it is estimated that District Level Licensing will reduce delays and costs for developers and regulators across England, estimated by Natural England to save hundreds of millions of pounds.
The current licensing system is focused on management to prevent harm on individual development sites, rather than addressing the wider health of the GCN population. Under the current licensing approach, developers who want to build on land which is home to GCNs need to trap and relocate the species before starting work. Seasonal restrictions, when these are not effectively planned for, can lead to delays and create uncertainty over costs and scheduling of planned development.
Whereas developers no longer need to do this, as part of the new approach it will seek to encourage targeted efforts towards provision of GCN habitat in areas where surveys show it will most effectively connect and expand GCN populations. This requires developers to make a conservation payment which will cover creating or restoring ponds in areas away from the development. These areas, mapped by Natural England, represent the best places for newts to thrive, and habitat created here will be maintained and monitored for 25 years. This new approach is intended to increase GCN populations at a county level and importantly for our clients, should reduce timescales.
We continue to work with our ecological associates to ensure our clients are up to speed with current ecological legislation to achieve the best possible results for their sites, and for the newt population!