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Newt protection levels may be set to change

20th March 2017

"There are signs that the high level of protection afforded to great crested newts could change before Brexit - with possible implications for developers" according to Matt Davies, our head of ecology.

A recent article* in the Financial Times quotes government representatives describing the EU legislation protecting newts as “excessive” – a noticeable change of voice; the recent government review of the Habitats Directive found the legislation to be fit for purpose.

Great crested newts are protected under European and UK law. Currently, there is no clear mechanism for how this protection would change, but the proposed “great repeal bill” would look to offer one approach.

This news comes on the back of the recent housing white paper, which also mentions newts as a barrier to development, and Natural England’s new policy which may afford greater flexibility for managing great crested populations on construction sites.

The proposed solution – the “newt offsetting scheme” will be introduced across the country, following a pilot run in Surrey. Once implemented, this change in approach could allow development to continue where there are found to be populated ponds, providing the availability of suitable great crested newt habits elsewhere.

Change will not happen overnight, though it does look possible that a relaxation of the laws protecting great crested newts is on the horizon, which in turn could allow for constructive ways of ensuring their populations are conserved, as part of sustainable development.

For more legislative guidance and strategic development advice contact Matt Davies.


* Developers set for Brexit triumph over great crested newt, George Parker and George Hammond: ft.com/content/83cf8ff0-eef0-11e6-ba01-119a44939bb6

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