Natural England and Woking Borough Council are working together to deliver a new approach to great crested newt (GCN) mitigation and development.
The project aims to take a landscape scale view on GCN mitigation for new development, focusing on conservation of key GCN populations within the Borough and moving away from the current site by site approach.
Pilot Project Outline:
– Under the proposed scheme key ‘Great Crested Newt Zones’ within borough have been identified, through a combination of borough wide survey and modelling techniques.
– The GCN zones are categorised using a traffic light system (red, orange, yellow, green), dependant on the anticipated risk of GCN being impacted by development.
– Appropriate mitigation will be secured through implementation of a landscape scale Conservation Strategy, which will be funded through developer contributions.
– A tariff matrix has been developed which requires different levels of payment dependant on what GCN ‘Zone’ the development falls within and how many ponds occurs within a 500m radius of a proposed development site.
– Participation in the pilot scheme is voluntary, but those developers choosing to be part of the scheme will not be required to submit detailed GCN survey data with their planning application and mitigation will be dealt with through developer contributions to fund the overarching Conservation Strategy.
– Where applicable EPS licencing would be dealt with via an organizational licence held by WBC (avoiding the need for developers to obtain their own EPS development licence).
Consultation on the pilot project is open from 13 January 2016 until 10 February 2016. Full details can be accessed here http://www.woking.gov.uk/environment/greeninf/newt/gcnpilot
Subject to the results of the consultation, it is envisaged that the pilot project will be operational in Spring 2016.