News Round-Up

Great crested newt conservation scheme expands across Staffordshire

Great crested newt conservation scheme expands across Staffordshire

NatureSpace is now offering developers across Staffordshire the opportunity to join an established scheme providing a quick, simple, and certain solution for meeting their legal obligations to great crested newts – whilst delivering real conservation benefits at the same time. This month, the company is announcing the scheme’s expansion into eight new Local Planning Authorities across Staffordshire.

Great crested newts are a protected species in the UK but often come with a reputation for causing significant delays to development. NatureSpace runs a ‘district licensing’ scheme, legally authorised by Natural England, which removes risk and uncertainty for planners and developers and dramatically speeds up the licensing process.

Today’s announcement is a significant development, increasing the geographical area covered by the NatureSpace scheme to over 15,000km². Staffordshire is a natural area of expansion for the NatureSpace scheme – the region is experiencing rapid development but also has a high population of great crested newts.

The extra areas now covered by the scheme are Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Stafford Borough Council, East Staffordshire Borough Council, South Staffordshire Council, Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council.

Delivered alongside the Newt Conservation Partnership, the scheme contributes towards a conservation strategy which provides great crested newts with a sustainable future and delivers landscape-scale, long-term habitat.

NatureSpace CEO, Dr Tom Tew commented: “We are delighted to see our District Licensing Scheme expand across Staffordshire, our most northern County but still an important stronghold for great crested newts, and are proud to have eight new Local Planning Authorities on board. That makes our scheme accessible to even more people, to the benefit of even more newts.

“Our streamlined approach offers a year-round option and a risk-free solution for developers of all sizes and types. Through the scheme, developers can speed up their delivery, avoid survey season restrictions, ensure legal certainty, and futureproof mitigation costs. In return, compensatory habitats are created in optimum locations for newts, away from the pressures of development. Our nature conservation expert partners create, manage and monitor these aquatic and terrestrial habitats long-term, guaranteeing a sustainable future for newts.

“We applaud the Staffordshire planning authorities for joining the scheme and look forward to working with their planners and ecologists.”

Councillor Angela Lax, Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Housing and Health at Lichfield District Council said: “We are supportive of this new scheme because it promotes the aspirations of our own Nature Recovery Network and also complements our existing work on Biodiversity Net Gain. The changes will help us to deliver a better service for our customers by providing a new option to speed up the planning system; developers can pay to opt-in and avoid the delays commonly caused by newt survey season. In addition, the mitigation to manage and monitor this protected species and their habitats is exemplary, so we are certain that we are enhancing our approach to biodiversity.”

Cliff Riley, planning manager for Eastco Homes said: “NatureSpace were proactive, helpful, and made the process simple to follow and implement.”

The scheme also funds creation, restoration and management of ponds, terrestrial habitat, and connectivity features for great crested newts.

NatureSpace’s Director of Conservation, Sarah Garratt adds: “The landscape conservation strategy we work towards is at the heart of the District Licensing Scheme. Working with the Newt Conservation Partnership and supported by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust, the scheme creates fantastic wildlife habitats – ensuring net gain for newts and wider biodiversity.

“We are proud that the scheme has already delivered over £1.5m into conservation projects for newts, with more than 180 development sites authorised under the district licensing scheme to date.”

NatureSpace Partnership now works alongside 40 Authorities in enabling them to authorise developments in their region under a great crested newt district licence. This approach to licensing provides a simple, certain, quick and sustainable solution to newt mitigation.

To learn more about the NatureSpace scheme and how it can help support your development, please visit:

Main photo credit: Sam Knowles