District level licensing

As a widely occurring protected and priority species, the presence of Great Crested Newts (GCN) is a key consideration in the planning and development process, with mitigation and compensation governed by licensing under the Habitats Regulations.

Natural England are rolling out a new system of District Level Licensing which shifts much of the burden of licensing for GCN mitigation from Natural England to local authorities, and the same for delivering GCN habitat creation from developers to local authorities; the expectation being that GCN habitat creation will be delivered strategically by local authorities, instead of piecemeal by developers on individual development sites. The move is designed to ensure a maximum benefit approach to the management of GCN and is being rolled out until 2020, when it will apply across the whole of England.

There are three ways in which Thomson can help local authorities meet their requirements under the new licensing regime.

GIS & Data Management Support for District Level Licensing

Our experienced geospatial team are experts in collating, mapping, managing and analysing ecology datasets at national, regional and local scales. With a track-record of adding value to existing GIS datasets to support the delivery of mitigation works, our GIS skillset could be used to map GCN metapopulations and potential barriers to GCN movement as well as identify priority areas for GCN conservation and potential areas suitable for habitat creation and enhancement. Our team can also develop bespoke tools to ensure efficient and effective data management.

As a recent example of our work, we undertook habitat connectivity mapping for a National Park authority. We measured habitat connectivity and mapped areas suitable for the creation, connection and restoration of priority habitats within the National Park.

GCN metapopulation example ©Thomsonec
GCN metapopulation example ©Thomsonec

Expert and professional advice on GCN mitigation

Our team are experts in GCN ecology, mitigation and licensing, having worked on numerous development projects involving this species over many years. Our in-house capabilities enable us to provide guidance on the development of mitigation and compensation strategies for this species and to assess individual applications by developers to use the District Level licensing scheme.

An ecologist holding a female great crested newt © Thomsonec
An ecologist holding a female great crested newt © Thomsonec

We have developed the mitigation strategies, and managed the licensable work, on numerous high-profile development projects including London Gateway Port and Logistics Park, sections of HS2 and the onshore cable route for Dudgeon offshore wind farm. We are also experienced in the application of Natural England’s new licensing policies, an example being for the onshore cable route for Hornsea 3 Offshore Windfarm and the use of District Level Licensing, most recently, at a school and a proposed housing development in Oxfordshire.

Habitat creation and monitoring

To complement the provision of GIS and consultancy services, we undertake ecological contracting works. This includes a range of bespoke habitat creation and mitigation works relating to GCN populations. Our teams have undertaken the renovation and enhancement of existing habitats, plus the creation of numerous GCN ponds and hibernacula on a wide range of client sites, up and down the country. This means that we can also undertake strategic habitat creation in a manner which we know works for GCN.

Since the habitats team were established in 2007, we have worked on a variety of projects including the trapping and translocation of GCN from 19 metapopulations along a 48km onshore cable route in Norfolk – the longest in the UK. At London Gateway, we created over 30ha of habitat to act as a multi-species receptor site, including the creation and planting of 50 ponds and 15,000 trees. This project is regarded as an exemplar by Natural England.

The mitigation work we undertook on phase one of the proposed HS2 route, involved the creation of over 30 ponds which were lined and planted with aquatic plants, grass seeded banks and the construction of multiple hibernacula, egg laying heaps and basking banks ready for future translocations.

District level licensing
Team undertaking GCN Mitigation works © Thomson 2018

Experience in the local authority sector

We are a trusted supplier of ecology and environmental services to local authorities including:

Bedford Borough Council Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
City of Wolverhampton St Albans District Council
Croydon London Borough Council Teignbridge District Council
Guildford Borough Council Wandsworth Borough Council
Hertfordshire County Council Waverley Borough Council
Lewisham London Borough Council Whitehill Town Council

How we can help you

Thomson Environmental Consultants have an experienced team who can work with you to meet the requirements of the new district level licensing regime.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you with your district level licensing requirements.

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