District Licence for Great Crested Newts

Developments within 500m of a pond

Surveys have shown that great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) can be present in around 50% of ponds in some areas, with around 32% pond occupancy in the South Midlands region, which is higher than the national average.

Ponds are critical to great crested newts for breeding, but they are also dependent upon other habitats too, as they spend most of their life on land within suitable terrestrial habitats such as woodland, hedgerows, rough grassland and scrub, travelling up to 500 metres between ponds.

Great crested newts have protected status through UK and European legislation and must be considered as part of the planning application process. If present, we must be satisfied that the mitigation hierarchy is satisfied, whereby detrimental effects can be:

  • Avoided;
  • Mitigated; or
  • Compensated

Where permission is granted, it may be necessary to incorporate safeguards as part of the development, as a planning condition and/or by legal agreement.

Currently, there are two ways to gain a licence in Gloucester City. These are by applying directly to Natural England for a licence or by joining the District Licence Scheme authorised by the City Council.


Natural England Licensing Route

  • Surveys will need to be carried out during the recognised season (mid-March to mid-June) to confirm the presence of great crested newts. A population size class assessment may also be needed.
  • When presence of great crested newts is confirmed, details of surveys, mitigation and compensation will need to be submitted and agreed with the local planning authority as part of a planning application in order to comply with legislation as well as national and local planning policy.
  • Planning permission is required before a licence application is made to Natural England.
    Once planning permission has been granted, an application will need to be prepared and submitted to Natural England, including details of impacts, mitigation, compensation and monitoring. This would need to demonstrate that compensation will restore, grow or enhance the great crested newt population.
  • If great crested newts were considered to be absent from a development site, but are then subsequently discovered during construction, all works must cease, and Natural England contacted for advice. A licence application may subsequently need to be submitted to Natural England and granted before works can recommence.


The District Licensing Route

  • The development can become authorised under Gloucester City Council’s great crested newt district licence (approved by Natural England). This means that the developer can opt into joining the scheme as part of their developments planning application before great crested newt surveys are carried out, i.e. before the presence of great crested newts is known. This is achieved by contacting the delivery body (NatureSpace), who conduct an assessment to confirm that the development is eligible for this scheme.
  • Once a developer has joined the scheme, NatureSpace carry out a metric assessment, which embeds the mitigation hierarchy and identifies what level of compensation is required. Off-site compensation, monitoring and long-term habitat management is delivered by The Newt Conservation Partnership (NCP), a not-for-profit organisation. Compensation effort is focused on key high-quality habitats as part of a landscape-scale conservation plan for great crested newts.
  • All associated costs in joining the scheme are dependent on the development size, location (where it is sited on the ‘impact risk zones map’) and impacts. These are confirmed by NatureSpace once the developer has joined the scheme and before planning permission is granted by the local planning authority.

Contacts for further information on Gloucester’s licensing options:

Natural England Licencing


NatureSpace District Licence Scheme



01865 688 307