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Shropshire Council Amends Great Crested Newt Survey Planning Guidance

February 14, 2014 HannahMaben Ecological ConsultancyIndustry Update

Shropshire Council has amended their Natural Environment Development Guidance Note 1 – When is an ecological assessment required?  This note is one of a series of guidance notes published by Shropshire Council.  The aim of this particular document is to give clear and concise advice to developers and members of the public on when a planning application should be accompanied by an ecological assessment.

Recent changes specifically relate to great crested newts and seem to reflect Natural England’s Standing Advice that was extended to include all European Protected Species (including great crested newt) in autumn 2013.

The updated guidance note states that a great crested newt survey is required for:

  • Major proposals within 500m of a pond (more than 10 dwellings or more than 0.5 hectare or for non-residential development is more than 1000m2 floor area or more than 1 hectare); OR
  • Minor proposals within 250m of pond.

If habitats are suitable then the guidance requires presence/absence surveys (and population surveys if presence is confirmed) to be undertaken by a suitably licensed ecologist in accordance with standard survey methodology (Natural England, 2001).  An ecologists report outlining recommendations as to whether a European Protected Species Licence with respect to great crested newts, would be required.  Such a report should detail any necessary mitigation scheme and/or precautionary method statement and should be submitted with any planning application.

Within this document, Shropshire Council makes it clear that they do not condition protected species surveys and would not consider doing so for any scheduled development works.  Given the restricted great crested newt survey season (mid-March to mid-June, with half the surveys to be undertaken between mid-April and mid-May) it is therefore important to ensure that the need for great crested newt surveys is thoroughly scoped in the early stages of a project to avoid costly delays at the planning application stage.

The guidance note suggests that it may be appropriate to only undertake surveys and submit a report for species that are likely to be affected by a particular activity.  This mirrors advice within Natural England’s Standing Advice that states where suitable habitat is present, great crested newt surveys should be undertaken UNLESS the applicant has confirmed that effects on great crested newt can be avoided AND that has this been confirmed by specialist advice to the satisfaction of the LPA.  An extended Phase 1 habitat survey and great crested newt survey should assess the sites and any nearby water bodies’ suitability to support great crested newts.

For more information on great crested newt please click here or contact Seasons Ecology:

Wellington – 07933 155 412 | Bath – 07864 586 629 |

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