Great crested newts are strictly protected by legislation, and at present developers must apply for licences on a site by site basis to undertake operations that could breach this legislation. Such licences are issued by Natural England after planning permission is granted, which can delay the delivery of developments.

Woking Borough Council and Natural England have piloted a new strategic approach to streamline the licencing process. The approach replaced site by site licences with a new plan level license, whereby surveys and compensation measures are implemented by Natural England and the local authority. Developers then buy into the plan level licence, rather than undertaking individual site surveys, providing on-site mitigation and obtaining an individual site licence from Natural England. The Government’s recent white paper on housing states that this approach will be rolled out across the country to speed up building out development sites once planning permission has been granted.