Great Crested Newts are protected through UK and European legislation. Surveys show they are in around a third of all ponds in the Aylesbury Vale, higher than the national average.
If a proposed development is within 500 metres of a pond, Great Crested Newts will be a planning consideration. If newts are present on the site, the planning application will need to include details of any impacts, mitigation, compensation and monitoring activities that will conserve, maintain or increase the newts to favourable conservation status.
Safeguards may need to be incorporated, either as part of the construction; as a condition of granting the planning; and/or by legal agreement. You will also need a licence to undertake any development works near the newts.
There are two ways to gain a newt mitigation licence in the Aylesbury Vale area. You can apply direct to Natural England’s site-based mitigation licensing scheme or use the District Licence scheme and be authorised by us under the Council’s district-wide licence already granted by Natural England. Both routes will still need to have a preliminary ecological appraisal by a suitably qualified ecologist.
Site-based mitigation licensing
In this licensing route, developers need to commission their own newt surveys and apply to Natural England for their own newt mitigation licence (if planning permission is needed for the works, the licence can usually only be applied for after planning permission has been granted.)
Environmental surveys will need to be carried out during the newt survey season from mid-March to mid-June to confirm the presence and the population status of newts and this information will need to be included in your planning application, along with your mitigation and compensation proposals. If there are newts present and you'd like to apply for a standard, site-based, licence, apply to Natural England for a licence.
You cannot apply for a site-based licence on a precautionary basis – so you will need to survey to assess whether newts or their habitat will be affected by the development works – if the assessment concludes there will be impacts, you will need to do the works under licence. If you don't have a licence and newts are found during construction, all building works must stop until a Natural England licence has been granted.
Natural England has granted Buckinghamshire Council a District Licence for Great Crested Newts as part of a regional conservation scheme that is delivered by NatureSpace.
In this licensing route, developers do not need to commission newt surveys, as there has already been a wider regional assessment for the district licence.
There is a streamlined process which requires developers to contact NatureSpace, who will provide a report and/or a certificate to be submitted alongside a planning application.
Use of the licence is authorised by us when planning permission is granted (or shortly afterwards). However, you need to apply to enter the district licensing scheme and present a district licence certificate or report (obtained through NatureSpace) as part of your planning application to us.
There is little or no compensation required by the developer on site, as this is undertaken as part of a wider newt conservation plan. Only in the highest risk areas for newts will any mitigation be required on-site ahead of development works. You do not have to stop work if you find newts on site, as you'll be covered under the licence – the newts can be moved, by a suitably qualified ecologist, and construction continued.