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Natural England’s District Level Licencing Scheme


Natural England’s District Level Licensing Scheme is a landscape-based approach focused on creating great crested newt (GCN) habitat in core opportunity areas across the nation.

In March 2021, this licencing scheme was launched in Northumberland, Durham, Tyne & Wear and the Tees Valley.  This strategic and targeted method is aimed at improving the value of created habitat, through an in-depth scoping process of suitable receptor sites based on the presence of local GCN populations.  It should also make the process of offsite mitigation that bit easier for developers to opt into.

This is an exciting opportunity for both environmentalists and developers alike, moving away from the outdated site-by-site approach that was largely restricted by the land available on each site for habitat mitigation, to a streamlined approach which puts the responsibility of offside mitigation in the hands of conservation bodies.  The licencing scheme ensures that each pond delivered is best positioned and well connected to known GCN populations, maximising the potential for establishment in the receptor ponds.  Furthermore, landowners are provided with a ‘no strings attached’ payment for each pond delivered on their property!

EcoNorth is immensely proud and excited to spearhead the project in Northumberland and the neighbouring boroughs as the licenced habitat delivery body.  We have already successfully delivered fifteen compensatory pond habitats across five sites in Northumberland and Newcastle.  Each pond is subject to ongoing annual monitoring, involving an assessment of each pond’s suitability for GCN and their presence through DNA analysis of water samples.  The monitoring is fully funded, at no expense to the landowner, and will take place annually for twenty five years – the anticipated duration of the scheme.

Whether you are a landowner looking to make use of a scrubby field corner, for example, or a developer struggling with onsite GCN mitigation, EcoNorth’s licenced specialists are well placed to assist you with your project and facilitate your involvement in the scheme.  As the scheme progresses, we will actively look for new receptor sites across the borough, and we will welcome and consider all landowner enquiries.

Additional information about the licencing scheme can be found here:

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