Wildlife licensing: New policies for EPSLs

CIEEM are currently running a series of webinars on various subjects. Today we attended one on the new European Protected Species Licensing policies in England. Staff from Natural England (Paul Horswill and Rob Cameron) gave an overview of the new policies. A consultation was held in early 2016 about these policies and in December the report on the analysis of responses to the consultation was published (available HERE).

The policies are currently aimed at projects involving great crested newts. They aim to put more attention onto the impact of developments on local populations. The three year project has been piloted in Woking, Surrey, where it focussed on “bringing the greatest benefits to the amphibians while streamlining the licensing process for housing developers”.

It was an informative webinar, with some interesting points raised with the questions. It seems as though the effectiveness of the new policies will not be known until they are put into use in a wider number of case studies. The project will start by targeting those districts which currently have the greatest number of GCN licence applications. It is thought that up to 75% of newt licences in these areas could adopt one or more of these policies, replacing traditional site-by-site licensing.

Policy Summaries

Below are the policies with the summaries as given on the gov.uk website. Links to further reading can be found at the end of this post.



Policy 1 – Greater flexibility when excluding and relocating European Protected Species (EPS) from development sites

Defra considers that compensation for European Protected Species impacts can be delivered without the need to relocate or exclude populations, where: exclusion or relocation measures are not necessary to maintain the conservation status of the local population; the avoid-mitigate-compensate hierarchy is followed; and compensation provides greater benefits to the local population than would exclusion and/or relocation.

Policy 2 – Greater flexibility in the location of newly created habitats that compensate for habitats that will be lost

If the licensing tests are met and the avoid-mitigate-compensate hierarchy is followed, off-site compensation measures may be preferred to on-site compensation measures, where there are good reasons for maximising development on the site of European Protected Species impacts, and where an off-site solution provides greater benefit to the local population than an on-site solution.

Policy 3 – Allowing EPS to have access to temporary habitats that will be developed at a later date

Where development (such as mineral extraction) will temporarily create habitat which is likely to attract European Protected Species, Defra favours proposals which enable works to proceed without the exclusion of European Protected Species, where the conservation status of the local population would not be detrimentally affected. On completion of development such sites must contribute to the conservation status of the local population as much as or more than the land use which preceded development. The measures to achieve this should be set out in a management plan and secured by a legal agreement.

Policy 4 – Appropriate and relevant surveys where the impacts of development can be confidently predicted

Natural England will be expected to ensure that licensing decisions are properly supported by survey information, taking into account industry standards and guidelines. It may, however, accept a lower than standard survey effort where: the costs or delays associated with carrying out standard survey requirements would be disproportionate to the additional certainty that it would bring; the ecological impacts of development can be predicted with sufficient certainty; and mitigation or compensation will ensure that the licensed activity does not detrimentally affect the conservation status of the local population of any EPS.

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