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National roll-out of new approach to great crested newt licensing - with ADAS leading the implementation of the pilot project

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In a recent White Paper, Natural England has announced a pioneering landscape-wide approach to great crested newt mitigation.  The aim of this new approach is to ensure greater efficiency in the licensing process, and ultimately a better outcome for both developers and great crested newts by considering boroughs as a whole rather than on a site by site basis.  The roll-out was announced in the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing White Paper.  ADAS has played a pivotal role in the pilot scheme in Woking and was commissioned to provide technical advice and direction to the early stages of this new approach, which is a joint project run by Natural England and Woking Borough Council.  

National roll-out of new approach to great crested newt licensing - with ADAS leading the implementation of the pilot project

ADAS was appointed to produce an ‘Improvement Plan’, using its expertise in great crested newts, including eDNA survey, and site management to set out specific habitat creation and enhancements for Westfield Common, an area identified to commence the first phase of improvement works within the borough of Woking.  The Plan required considerable stakeholder engagement in addition to the purely ecological requirements.  On successful production of the Plan, ADAS was also commissioned to implement the ‘Year 1’ requirements, to improve both the breeding and terrestrial habitat in Westfield Common.  These works included desilting ponds, removal of excess shading from trees and the creation of amphibian dispersal corridors by dead hedging.

To be able to undertake these improvement works Natural England, in 2016, granted Woking Borough Council an organisational licence, allowing it to authorise operations that may affect great crested newts on development sites at a borough level.

Going forward, ADAS will undertake additional survey work; and continue to work with partners to establish a means to measure and connect up the great crested newt populations across Woking in order that the favourable conservation status of great crested newts can be maintained and enhanced across the borough.  

Natural England’s recent press release demonstrates their confidence in the success of the pilot scheme and the fact that it will deliver the continued protection of great crested newts, better safeguarding as well as improving the long term conservation status across a landscape-scale.  Following successful involvement at such an early stage of the project, ADAS plans to maintain a long-term role by continuing the improvements at Westfield Common, as well as devising strategies to ensure the scheme is rolled out on a wider scale across the borough. 

ADAS, as a company, has been at the forefront of great crested newt mitigation, enhancement and survey techniques with most notably a lead in the market for eDNA surveys.  ADAS were one of the first organisations to offer the Natural England eDNA approved method and one of our Principal Ecologists, James Simpson, delivers training at a national level.  ADAS also provides standard survey methods for which the project team all hold the appropriate licences.

For further information on great crested newts surveys and mitigation please contact us on 0333 0142950.

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