Why are councils reluctant to join Natural England’s district-level licensing scheme?

The roll out of a radical new district licensing scheme for great crested newts nationwide is struggling to get off the ground due to an “unwillingness” from councils to adopt the new approach. James Agyepong-Parsons investigates

Great crested newts are a European Protected Species under the habitats directive. It is an offence to capture, kill, injure or disturb them or their habitat without a licence from Natural England. 

The wildlife regulator has been rolling out a new approach to approving developments that could threaten the so-called “cresties”. Natural England believes its new district-level licensing scheme will encourage investment in the creation of larger scale, better connected newt habitat that will enlarge existing populations. It believes that the current method, based on protecting individual newts on a site-by-site basis, is not effective. 

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