Greener building and conserving wildlife work in unison in the North East as a new path to sustainable development prompts action.
Natural England’s district level licensing (DLL) scheme, which primarily prioritises protecting wildlife, also helps support the Government’s ambitions to build greener. The program has been launched in Northumberland, Durham, Tyne & Wear and Tees Valley.
Great crested newts are protected under UK and EU law due to their dramatic decline in population over the last 60 years. It is an offence to harm or disturb them. Therefore, developers must apply for a licence prior to any construction on or around newts’ habitats.
Seasonal restrictions can cause problems over the costs and scheduling of planned development, delaying house building and construction.
The DLL offers an alternative by giving developers the opportunity to make a conservation payment to join their local scheme, with the sum based on the predicted impact of their development.
The payments cover the restoration or creation of ponds in areas where newts are known to flourish. Any new habitat created will be monitored for 25 years.
This in return minimises costs and provides an uncomplicated and faster system for developers which helps ensure delivery. This also helps benefit local people and authorities by avoiding uncertainty and costly delays.
Already, the DLL is being successfully supported by developers across England in 130 local authorities as part of a programme funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
This new approach to wildlife protection rethinks how investment in licensing can establish secure long-term management and restoration, whilst providing greener construction from the outset and certainty to those looking to develop.