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New Natural England wildlife licensing policies

07 March 2017

In 2016 Natural England carried out a consultation on four proposed new wildlife licensing policies, of which the outcome report is available to view here. These policies are designed to reduce costs to businesses, encourage species conservation on a wider, landscape scale – channelling investment into “bigger, better, more ‘joined-up’ habitat for wildlife”, and apply the law to focus on ensuring the conservation status of populations, rather than protecting individuals.


The policies are:


Greater flexibility when excluding and relocating European Protected Species (EPS) from development sites.

Until now in order to protect individual European Protected Species, such as great crested newt, there may be costs involved in moving them or building fences to exclude them from a potential development site. Where impacts are low this policy will remove the need for relocation or exclusion, providing there is a programme in place to enhance or create sufficient habitat for the European Protected Species impacted.


Greater flexibility in the location of newly created habitats that compensate for habitats that will be lost.

This policy will enable Natural England to permit creation of new habitat away from the development site, this will provide more flexibility for developers whilst providing greater benefit to the European Protected Species in the long term.


Allowing EPS to have access to temporary habitats that will be developed at a later date.

This policy will allow wildlife access to brownfield and mineral working sites such as quarries, which often provide attractive habitat for wildlife and a lasting benefit, provided there is a secured management plan in place. Until now policy has incentivised European Protected Species licence applicants to keep wildlife out, by installing fencing or by destroying the habitat to prevent species such as great crested newts from colonising. Developers will not be prevented from re-working areas that have been colonised by European Protected Species, as long as an overall benefit to the species impacted is assured.


Appropriate and relevant surveys where the impacts of development can be confidently predicted.

If protected species are discovered unexpectedly, surveys can cause expensive delays. The fourth policy offers greater flexibility in the level of survey effort required, where the impact of the development on the European Protected Species can be predicted with sufficient certainty.


Following approval by Defra ministers, the new licensing policies are being formally adopted. ECOSA will be monitoring any changes to wildlife licencing policy. If you have any queries concerning protected species on your development site, please call our ecology team for free advice on 02380 261 065, or email

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