Four new policies may now be used when submitting European Protected Species (EPS) mitigation license applications to Natural England. The polices aim to reduce delays and costs to developers, whilst improving the outcomes for wildlife. Whilst, it is likely that the policies will be used mainly for great crested newt licensing, the proposed policies may also be used for other EPS, such as bats.
The four policies are:
Policy 1: allows greater flexibility in exclusion and relocation activities, where there is investment in habitat provision. The aim of this policy is to reduce the spend on fencing and relocation in return for a greater investment in habitat creation and management. In practice this means that there will be less emphasis on removing every individual animal from a site and more focus on the long-term maintenance of the population.
Policy 2: allows greater flexibility in the location of newly created compensatory habitat. Prior to this, compensatory habitats needed to be located on or adjacent to the development site. Under the new policy, compensatory habitats can be located elsewhere providing that it can be demonstrated that the off-site solution has greater benefits for wildlife. This policy could benefit developers by increasing the developable area of the site. When combined with the new District Level Licencing scheme, this means that recipient sites for EPS may be identified in Local Plans.
Policy 3: proposes greater flexibility on exclusion measures where this will allow EPS to use temporary habitats on a site. The policy allows the retention of animals within habitats that will be developed at a later date. This may be useful for large-scale developments that are built out in phases.
Policy 4: proposes a reduced survey effort in circumstances where the impacts of a development can be confidently predicted. This policy aims to reduce delays to developments due to the seasonal or other constraints to surveying EPS. In such cases a worst-case scenario should be assumed and measures should be implemented to mitigate for the maximum level of impacts.