Reviewing your mitigation strategy for great crested newt mitigation.
Implementing a mitigation and compensation strategy under licence can be a lengthy process, compounded by the planning system and the great crested newt survey season, which ends all too soon.
Great crested newts are commonly found on development sites in England, Wales and southern parts of Scotland. Both the Habitats Regulations and planning policy require that consideration is given to avoiding impacts on this species before other options are considered. However, sometimes it will be necessary to implement a mitigation and compensation strategy under licence from the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO). Obtaining such a licence can be a lengthy process and which can be compounded by the both the (very short!) great crested newt survey season and the (often lengthy!) planning system. The mitigation and compensation work can also be lengthy and is seasonally constrained.
Ensure that your survey information is up-to-date. Great crested newt survey data has a ‘shelf life’ of just 2 to 4 years, depending on the level of impact of the development project. This means that survey data older than this cannot be used to support a licence application. Ensure that you have discharged, as far as possible, all planning conditions that relate to wildlife before you make the licence application. Generally speaking, it is a requirement of the SNCO that such planning conditions are discharged before licences are issued.
Consider undertaking habitat creation work early. In many cases, creating habitat for great crested newts in compensation for the impacts of the development can be undertaken before the licence application is made. This approach is not without risk, but it can mean that translocation can get under way as soon as the licence is issued.
Get the licence application right first time. Licence applications are commonly returned by the SNCO due to poor quality or non-compliance with the Habitats Regulations. For example, about 45% of the licence applications for Great Crested Newts processed by Natural England are re-submissions following an initial knock-back. The process of re-submission can take around eight weeks to complete with potentially extensive effects on the construction programme due to seasonal constraints.