Natural England Consultation on Licence Charges

Natural England are currently consulting on a proposal to introduce charges for wildlife licences.

Natural England states that it “want[s] to ensure this service offers value for money for licence applicants and the taxpayer and achieves good outcomes for wildlife.”

We work with our clients when they need a wildlife licence from Natural England, for example when planning to disturb or remove protected wildlife or damage protected habitats.

This will primarily affect licences we apply for under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Natural England state that the proposal aims to:

  • Improve the licensing service for customers by enabling investment in line with changes in customer demand
  • Change the licensing service from wholly taxpayer-funded to a mixture of taxpayer-funded and service user-funded, in line with Treasury and Cabinet Office principles for the funding of regulatory activity.
  • Charges will also include cost recovery for compliance monitoring. This will enable a consistent level of compliance checks to be sustained, which will improve conservation outcomes for wildlife.

Natural England are consulting on exemptions from charging where the application is in relation to health and safety, the prevention of serious damage to property or the spread of disease, householder development projects, conservation delivery projects and conservation research.

Natural England has powers to charge for licences under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Charging would begin in the second half of 2018 if approved.

I have responded to the consultation on behalf of our clients. I have long held the view that licences should be paid for, where the funds are ring fenced to ensure that they fund a better services (at times we have to wait for two months or more to receive a licence), fund production of literature and training for consultants to standardise the quality of applications across the industry and to fund compliance monitoring where appropriate.

In general, I support the introduction of charging. However, I strongly object to the exclusion of householder applications from the charges and the size of the charge (roughly £130 per survey licence and £700 per development related application).

I consider that a fairer approach would be to levy a smaller charge (£75 – £100) per application across all applicants, rather than hit developers with £700 per application. We work with many clients who are small builders and are managing single house renovation projects with small budgets, and this seems to unfairly hit them.

The consultation is now open and will close on Monday 5 February 2018.

If you have views on this subject, you may want to have your voice heard.

Assistant Ecologist Appointed in Cambridge

Prime Environment is really pleased to welcome their newest recruit – Emma Thomas.

Emma joins the Cambridge office as an Assistant Ecologist to support our work in the South East.

Emma has returned to consulting after a few years contributing to academic research on the front lines of conservation biology. Her previous experience working as an assistant consultant saw Emma work on both small and large-scale projects including for the Yorkshire and Humber CCS cross country pipeline and Dover Castle.


The Landscape Institute addresses connectivity and ecosystem services

Prime Environment welcomes the Landscape Insitute’s greater involvement in ecology – we often work closely with landscape architects in delivering schemes that are meaningful in a landscape context, deliver facilities such as playing areas and provide habitats for wildlife.  The continued improvement of ecological expertise in landscape architecture practices and understanding of the role of the landscape in ecology consultancies can only be a good thing.

As discussed at its recent conference, the Landscape Institute (LI) considers that good landscapes are not only beautiful but also deliver a full range of benefits.

Two new information notes from the LI will help practitioners as they seek to make that happen.

Technical Information Note 1/16 covers the subject of connectivity and ecological networks and Technical Information Note 2/16 deals with ecosystem services.  Conserving and enhancing connectivity in landscapes ensures that not only people but also other species are able to traverse that land in search of their needs.  The ecosystem services approach provides a framework to help practitioners check the range of benefits their schemes in a wider context.

Prepared with the support of the University of York, Ecosystems Knowledge Network and IALE-UK, the two notes are part of an emerging series of information and guidance.  As the Landscape Institute seeks to better support the work the breadth of work that  its membership undertakes, these notes will help lead to not only well-rounded and better connected landscapes but also a well-rounded and better connected profession.

Simon Odell, the LI’s head of technical and professional services said,

‘Whether responding to local plan policy, more enlightened clients or a desire to deliver more than just beauty, there is a practical need for these documents.  I am delighted at the expert support we have had with their development and I have even had one ecologist say they helped clear up a point of confusion.’

Other recent notes include guidance on green bridges, a very specific way of improving connectivity and one that is relevant to the profession’s role in mitigating the impacts of major transport infrastructure.

See the new publications here and here.

source the Landscape Institute