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Natural England introduces charges for European protected species licensing

09 April 2019

A new Wildlife Licensing Service has begun operations at Natural England (NEWLS) and is now responsible for the administration and assessment of European protected species (EPS) licence applications. With this comes the phased implementation of statutory charges for licence application services from 1st April 2019.

A mitigation licence is required from Natural England before works can be undertaken on site where European protected species and their habitats, such as bat species, hazel dormouse and great crested newt, will be impacted. For new applications from 1st April 2019, charges for hazel dormouse mitigation licences are in effect. Bat mitigation licence charges will be implemented from 22nd April 2019.

Charges for other protected species mitigation licences will be phased in throughout 2019. Badger development licence charges are expected to be implemented during May 2019 and great crested newt mitigation licence charges are to be introduced later this year.

Depending on the species and the nature and complexity of the project involved, Natural England will adhere to a set of charging criteria and a pricing structure involving a fixed fee and variable rates to determine the application.

However, there are several licence charge exemptions, which are as follows:

  • Licences for preserving public health and safety;
  • Licences for preventing serious damage to property, including that to crops and fisheries;
  • Licences for preventing the spread of disease;
  • Licences for science, education or research activities;
  • Licences for projects that achieve conservation aims under the following circumstances: where the principle aim is to maintain or improve the conservation status of a threatened species or habitat; the principle aim is to maintain or improve the conservation of historic properties; or where projects deliver favourable conservation for bats through in-situ mitigation; and
  • Licences for householder applications including alterations or extensions for a single dwelling, such as loft conversions, extensions, garages and conservatories or those not requiring any planning permission, for example under Generally Permitted Development.

As well as budgeting for a professional ecologist’s time and the necessary ecological surveys and assessment, if you are a developer, construction company or local authority, these changes will likely impact overall project costs where a mitigation licence is required.

At the time of writing, charges for a hazel dormouse European Protected Species Mitigation (EPSM) licence are £690.00 for a ‘simple’ application or a standard £183.00 charge plus a variable charge on top for the assessment of a ‘complex’ application.

From 22nd April 2019, charges for bat EPSM licence applications are £130.00 under the Bat Mitigation Class Licence (BMCL) route, £500.00 for a ‘simple’ application, and a standard £183.00 charge plus a variable charge on top for the assessment of a ‘complex’ application.

At ECOSA, our team of expert ecologists are here to guide you through the licensing process and ensure that all obligations in respect of ecology and the law are met. As ever, we will be staying up to date with the latest updates from Natural England regarding the new charging scheme so we can keep our clients informed.

If you have any questions regarding ecological surveys and assessment or how these changes may impact your development project, please feel free to get in touch with us for clear advice on 02380 261065.

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