Updated: Aug 14, 2019
Natural England last Thursday (01.08.2019) has granted nine further licences to Local Planning Authorities across the South Midlands to join the great crested newt scheme offered by NatureSpace, which now includes all six districts in Gloucestershire.
With an unfortunate reputation for causing significant delays to development, great crested newts are nevertheless a protected species in the UK and are declining across their range. The NatureSpace scheme, approved and licenced by Natural England, removes risk and uncertainty for developers, and dramatically speeds up the licensing process. It also ensures a sustainable future for great crested newts by creating new habitats across the whole region.
The scheme was trialled in seven Local Planning Authority areas across the South Midlands and has been running successfully for 18 months, with 150 enquiries and over 40 licences granted to date. The announcement is the next step towards national roll-out of the scheme.
The new areas which will be covered by the scheme include Cherwell District Council, Cotswold District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucester City Council, South Northamptonshire Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council, Stroud District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.
Developments that may potentially impact on great crested newts are often constrained into completing detailed surveys during a small three-month window once a year. Dr Tew explains:
“The need to provide detailed survey information is a huge problem for development. If the survey season window is missed, the development can be postponed for a year, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. With our new scheme, we have already surveyed the districts and produced a great crested newt ‘risk map’. Under the scheme, a simple contribution to offset the impacts of their project puts an end to spiralling mitigation costs for developers.”
In partnership with the South Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership and supported by the main conservation NGOs, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust, the scheme creates at least four new ponds for every pond lost with associated terrestrial habitat as part of a landscape-scale and long-term conservation strategy. So far, the scheme has delivered over £250,000 towards conservation projects for great crested newts.
NatureSpace’s Director of Conservation, Sarah Garrett adds:
“At the heart of this scheme is a detailed assessment that embeds the mitigation hierarchy. This ensures that contributions made by development are appropriate and fair, but also that it takes into account high-quality habitat that shouldn’t be lost to development and seeks to mitigate and enhance where necessary. The strategic conservation approach carried out by the South Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership works across the landscape focusing on character areas, restabilising great crested newt habitat and developing connective corridors across the South Midlands. With the new districts coming on board it will open up even more opportunities for us to deliver long-term conservation for great crested newts.”
To learn more about the NatureSpace scheme and how it can help support your developments, please contact: