Great crested newt district licensing

Great crested newts and their habitats are legally protected in the UK and must be considered as part of the planning application process.

Although usually found within 500 metres of a pond, which they use for breeding, great crested newts spend most of their time on land. Therefore, other habitats are also important to them such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland and scrub.

Unless it can be demonstrated that there is no risk of impact to great crested newts or their habitats, you may need a licence to carry out development work where the species and/or its protected habitats are present.

Until now, there has only been a single licensing option to allow works affecting great created newts to proceed in the West Sussex County Council area, that being by applying directly to Natural England for a licence after you have received planning permission. However, the County Council has now been issued with a District licence by Natural England, which allows us to authorise works under the District Licensing Scheme as part of the planning application process.

Using the council’s District Licence - delivered by NatureSpace

West Sussex County Council now holds a great crested newt District Licence, granted by Natural England, under which developments can now be authorised. If you wish to use the District Licence, please see the information below.

  • Available for all applications within West Sussex where the County Council is the determining planning authority (for example, for minerals, waste and our own development). For non-County Council planning applications, please refer to the relevant district or borough council, as not all authorities are part of the District Licence.
  • You must apply before or during (not after) the planning application process, otherwise variations to any planning consent will be necessary.
  • You can opt into the scheme by contacting NatureSpace to request a free upfront assessment which will determine eligibility and all associated costs, timing and mitigation requirements.
  • Under the District Licensing Scheme habitat compensation is delivered by the Newt Conservation Partnership, who take on responsibility for the habitat creation as well as long-term monitoring and management, so that developers don’t have to. Compensation through the scheme delivers landscape-scale conservation for great crested newts.

For more information, visit NatureSpace’s website, or contact them using the details below.

Telephone: 01865 688307
Website: NatureSpace

Natural England standard mitigation licence

You can apply directly to Natural England for a great crested newt mitigation licence. Planning permission is required before a licence application can be made to Natural England. If you wish to apply directly to Natural England please see the information below.

  • Newt surveys conducted by a suitably qualified ecologist will need to be carried out during the survey season (mid-March to mid-June) to establish presence or likely absence of great crested newts to inform the planning application. A population size class assessment (involving 6 survey visits throughout the survey season) may also be needed.
  • If their presence is confirmed, details of surveys, impact assessment, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with the county planning authority as part of a planning application.
  • Once planning permission has been granted, a licence application will need to be prepared and submitted to Natural England. It will need to include details of impacts, mitigation, compensation, management and monitoring. This will need to demonstrate that compensation will maintain or enhance the great crested newt population.

For more information or to apply for a mitigation licence, visit Natural England’s website.

Non-licensed route

Some developments may be considered to have a low risk of impact and a licence may not be necessary. This may require an ecologist to prepare a precautionary method of working to avoid offences and the requirement for a licence.

If great crested newts are found to be present, all works must cease and Natural England contacted for advice. It is likely a licence will be required and, depending what works have been undertaken, access to the District Licensing Scheme may not be possible.

Last updated:
2 November 2023
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