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Great crested newt district licensing scheme

Developments within 500 metres of a pond

Great crested newts have protected status through UK and European legislation and must be considered as part of the planning application process.

Ponds are critical to great crested newts for breeding. Whilst on land, great crested newts are also dependent upon other habitats such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland and scrub. They are generally found within 500m of ponds, although may travel further than this.

Natural England have produced a guidance document for all planning authorities using the District Licensing Scheme (available to view here) which explains that local planning authorities can rely on the “Impact Risk Zone” maps to identify where great crested newts are likely to be. 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. The “Impact Risk Zone” map is available on the NatureSpace Partnership website.

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. You can get a licence by:

Natural England Licensing Route

Surveys will need to be carried out during the recognised season (mid- March to mid-June) to confirm the presence of great crested newts. A population size class assessment may also be required. Surveys should always be carried out by suitably qualified and experienced ecologists.

If the presence of great crested newts is confirmed, details of surveys, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with us as part of a planning application. This is necessary to comply with legislation as well as national and local planning policy.

Planning permission is required before a licence application is made to Natural England.

Once planning permission has been granted, an application (including details of impacts, mitigation, compensation and monitoring) will need to be prepared and submitted to Natural England. This would need to demonstrate that compensation will restore, grow or enhance the great crested newt population.

The District Licensing Route

A development can be authorised under our great crested newt district licence (approved by Natural England). The applicant does not necessarily need to obtain any great crested newt surveys and would be licensed (with certain obligations) to start works without applying for a separate licence
from Natural England. If great crested newts are found during works, they can be moved out of harm’s way (to best practice mitigation principles) without having to stop works and apply for a Natural England licence.

The scheme is voluntary and is delivered on our behalf by NatureSpace and The Newt Conservation Partnership.

The applicant should contact NatureSpace who will carry out a free, up- front assessment to determine eligibility and all associated costs, timing and mitigation requirements. You can also call them on 01865 688307 or email:

The applicant should apply to join the scheme before planning permission is granted.

Off-site compensation, monitoring and long-term habitat management is delivered by The Newt Conservation Partnership. Compensation effort is focused on key high-quality habitats as part of a landscape-scale conservation plan for great crested newts.

Further detail regarding habitat creation and conservation benefits can be found in the latest monitoring report.