New scheme launched to protect great crested newts in Shropshire
A new approach to the licensing of great crested newts has been launched by Natural England in Shropshire.
Great crested newts have seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years despite being protected under UK and EU law. It is an offence to disturb the species, so landowners or housing developers must apply for a licence before undertaking any building work on or around the places that they live.
The ‘District Level Licensing’ scheme (DLL) better conserves the orange-bellied amphibian by offering a new licensing option for developers. Developers make a conservation payment which is used to create and secure new ponds in locations that will benefit the species.
Great crested newts can be found throughout Shropshire, with particular hotspots found on old power stations and quarry sites.
Natural England has worked in partnership with Shropshire Wildlife Trust to restore and create 12 ponds across the county ahead of the scheme launch and there are plans for more now the project is open.
Pete Lambert, river projects manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: "People in Shropshire like a pond, the opportunity to create or restore a pond has been welcomed and demand in the County has exceeded the initial funding. Whether for individuals or the many local nature conservation or farmer groups, pond creation has struck a chord.
“The enhanced sense of being in the position to compensate for pond losses elsewhere has accelerated the take up of the scheme. In a few short months we have travelled the length and breadth of the county looking at likely pond locations or a much needed pond restoration. With the turn of the season planning continues and we are looking forward to a busy autumn of pond creation."
DLL aimt to create new and viable habitats while supporting much needed development in the area, for example around Taunton where pressure is high.
Importantly the scheme also benefits local people and authorities by avoiding costly delays and licensing uncertainty for developers, helping to ensure homes are built and local authorities can deliver their plans.
Jen Almond, Natural England’s district level licensing programme manager, said: “District level licensing is transforming an area of regulation from one that has been problematic for great crested newts and people into one that is writing a real conservation success story.
“The roll-out of this scheme in Shropshire represents a win-win for both local developers and the future of this iconic species."
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