Great Crested Newt Surveys

Despite being protected under UK and EU law, over the last 60 years, Great Crested Newt (GCN) populations have been in dramatic decline due to agricultural intensification and building development.

Since 1900, an estimated 50% of the UK’s ponds have been lost, reducing the availability of suitable GCN habitat.

What is District Level Licensing?

District level licensing aims to increase the number of great crested newts by providing new or better habitats in targeted areas to benefit their wider population. It’s a simpler, quicker process than mitigation licensing because planning applications do not need to include: surveys of great crested newts.

What are the benefits over traditional licensing?

Under the terms of traditional GCN licensing, developers who want to build on land where GCN have been identified must trap and relocate the species before starting work. This approach simply keeps GCN out and confines them to a location rather than helping to enhance their population.

By offering DLL, EMEC has provided a valuable cost-effective solution offering developers and landowners who want to sustainably build residential or commercial properties an option to meet their legislative obligations in a way that will not negatively impact on GCN populations.

Instead of applying for a separate licence or carrying out individual detailed surveys, when a DLL scheme is in place, developers can make a single habitat compensation payment, calculated according to the impact of the development. This option provides pond networks and allows GCN to thrive. Money will be saved by paying the single mitigation fee rather than paying for multiple licences and surveys.

There are stringent conditions within DLL that help ensure the location of ponds and any other potential inhabitants in the pond will not threaten GCN survival. E.g. Fish must not be present as they eat the GCN larvae and attract birds which eat both larvae and GCN.

Who can benefit from District Level Licensing?

Ecologically, building ponds can help farmers to utilise land that would otherwise be flooded and not suitable for cultivation. In doing so they create more natural habitats in which species that are crucial to the pollination of crops or control of pests can thrive, thus increasing their crop yield.

For landowners there are some very attractive ecological and monetary benefits. The amount of money spent on surveying, trapping and exclusion with plastic fencing can outstrip that spent on habitat creation and management by a ratio of seven to one.

Under Natural England-led DLL schemes, 85% of developer money goes directly towards habitat creation/restoration, management and monitoring. Whereas under traditional mitigation licensing, which cost £700 each, only approximately 16 percent will be re-invested in habitat creation.

How does EMEC help?

EMEC works with local landowners, councils and Wildlife Trusts to identify potential sites within Strategic Opportunity Areas (SOA) throughout Leicestershire, Rutland, Rushcliffe Borough, South Kesteven and other surrounding areas around Nottinghamshire.

The strategic operating area SOA can be accessed via the Magic Map located on the DEFRA website. To access the map, please select the below tabs.

  • Land based schemes
  • Other schemes
  • Great Crested Newts Strategic Opportunity Areas (England)”

Through delivery of the DLL scheme, EMEC has created over 1 hectare worth of specifically dedicated GCN habitat which in turn increases wider biodiversity. The ponds we create are dedicated entirely to wildlife benefiting both GCN, other European Protected Species and plant life.

By promoting and educating developers on the benefits of District Level Licensing, EMEC has played a key role in helping to create over 150 ponds

These interconnected habitats now offer GCN a much better chance of survival. In addition, landowners have a greater understanding and sympathy for the habitats they have created and value the benefits that have been delivered to their core farming practices as well as to the nature and the environment overall.

DLL Pond

Request a consultation

If you are a landowner or developer and would like to explore the opportunities district level licensing could offer you, please get in touch with our in-house specialist, Philip Bych who will be happy to help.