District Licensing is a brand new alternative approach to great crested newt (GCN) licensing. It is currently available in certain parts of the country whereby district-wide survey data of the distribution of GCN are available. These distribution data, along with other environmental data, are used to produce a map which indicates where there are highest risks to the local conservation status of GCN and where GCN pose highest risks to development. Developers can then opt into the scheme before great crested newt surveys are carried out. Mitigation contingencies are based on the type of development, the impact zones associated with the development area and the size of the development area.

Rather than follow the traditional method of licensing, developers can choose to use the District Licensing option to speed up their development delivery without the usual constraint of working to the great crested newt survey season (mid-March to mid-June), since District Licensing is available all year. However, certain areas, including those that lie within red (highest impact) zones will still require traditional survey methods and licensing.

This scheme is endorsed by the government and it allows third parties, such as Local Planning Autorities or County Councils, to be granted a ‘District Organisational Licence’ under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. The aim is to build and manage compensatory habitat in a more strategic way than has previously been the case, whilst simultaneously alleviating the delays that developers typically had to contend with.

District Licensing is a new scheme, although it is hoped that this will provide a solution for everyone, including great crested newts (!), into the future.

For more information on traditional survey methods and how we can help if you aren’t located in an area that offers district licensing, click the below link: