New approach is a win for both the great crested newt and developers

The great crested newt will no longer be a byword for development delays and spiralling costs after South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) joined a regional partnership to tackle the problem.

Published: Monday, 12th August 2019

Instead of being granted planning permission and then developers discovering they must redraw their plans to mitigate for the presence of great crested newts, they will be able to consult a pre-existing ‘impact risk map’ before they submit their plans.

Cllr Phil Bignell, SNC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “Great crested newts are a protected species for good reason, their populations have declined significantly.

“Developers are concerned by delays and extra surveys for great crested newts and how mitigation can sometimes require extra ponds and landscaping.

“This approach avoids those complications, but at the same time ensures that mitigation measures are not an afterthought of the development process.

“This scheme is the sustainable option and ultimately, it’s better for great crested newts and wider biodiversity. It’s a win for both."

Matt Jackson, conservation manager for the Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, said: “In the UK newts have a bad press because of the costs involved in protecting them, and when new habitat is created for them it can be in small, isolated areas where their future may not be very secure, rather than as part of a wider nature recovery network.

“District licensing aims to take a much more strategic approach to providing habitat for newts.

“Crucially the approach has a monitoring and review process built in so that Natural England, the government’s conservation advisors, will be able to ensure it works properly for newts as well as developers.”

The great crested newt mitigation scheme is provided by Naturespace and has been successfully trialled over the last 18 months across seven local planning authorities in the south Midlands.