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Great Crested Newts (GCN) have seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years, despite protection under UK and EU law. It is an offence to disturb them so landowners or housing developers must apply for a licence before undertaking any building work on or around the places that they live.

If you are a developer proposing to develop land where your work will disturb or damage Great Crested Newt (GCN) habitat (ponds and land around ponds), you must apply for a licence. This is to prevent any illegal actions to this protected species.

If you are unsure if your application will impact a Great Crested Newt habitat, please:

Different ways to apply for a licence

There are three different ways to apply for a licence from Natural England to enable development or other work that may affect Great Crested Newt:

1. District Level Licensing Scheme

The Peterborough City Council area has a District Level Licensing (DLL) Scheme with Natural England. This is a quicker and simpler option than applying for a GCN Mitigation Licence.

Read the GOV.UK guidance on GCN district level licensing schemes.

2. GCN Mitigation Licence

It is possible to apply to Natural England for a GCN Mitigation Licence. These licences will require help from an ecologist with the relevant experience to obtain. This is slower than other options but may be available when the other two options are not.

Visit the GOV.UK website to view information on the Great Crested Newt Mitigation Licence.

3. A Low Impact Class Licence

A Low Impact Class Licence – this scheme only applies where impacts to Great Crested Newt and their habitat are considered to be small scale. This is implemented through a consultant ecologist who is registered for the scheme.

Benefits of the District Level Licensing Scheme

The benefits of applying through the District Level Licencing Scheme:

  • Better conserves Great Crested Newt
  • Is simple to use
  • Offers developers certainty in terms of costs and timescales
  • Means developments that have been through planning will not be held up by protracted post-planning licensing
  • Results in lots of high value, secure ponds for newts which are managed and monitored for the long term

How to join the District Level Licensing Scheme

Natural England have put together this note to explain the breakdown of fees and how they calculate the cost to join the scheme, together with some examples.

Please note: For minor schemes, it may be cheaper to use a GCN Mitigation Licence or a Low Impact Class Licence. Please consult your project’s consultant ecologist before deciding on a route.

Visit the GOV.UK website for information on how to join the Great Crested Newt District Level Licensing Scheme. They have provided guidance, an enquiry form and an application form.

Further information on the District Level Licensing Scheme


Natural England ran a series of webinars with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) to provide more information on DLL:

Natural England’s District Level Licensing Framework document

Natural England have published a GCN District Level Licensing Framework document on their website.

The framework document sets out the overarching principles for Natural England's expectations for applications for organisation licences. It will also apply to Natural England in the administration of its own DLL schemes.

The framework document is aimed at helping organisations who are interested in participating in DLL. It explains how Natural England approaches the assessment of such a scheme under the legal licensing tests and relevant policy, and the documents and mechanisms that are likely to be needed to enable a licence to be granted.