Ecology and Biodiversity


Protected species are a material consideration in the planning process. Information about the presence of protected species will be required before an application can be determined (surveys cannot be conditioned as part of a planning consent). 

You can view and search for more information on ecology and biodiversity within the District by visiting the Cambridge and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre (external link) 

It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide any necessary surveys or ecological assessments and these should be undertaken by a suitably qualified expert. It is important to remember that some surveys can only be carried out at specific times of the year. You can check the guide below for the optimal survey times:

More information on the requirements for planning applications is available in the GOV.UK: Standing Advice for Protected Species (external link) 


Protected habitats should also be given consideration when proposing new development. Cambridgeshire County Council has produced a Biodiversity Checklist (PDF) and Biodiversity Guidance Notes (PDF) which provides more information on habitats for developers. 

Developers will be expected to demonstrate how their proposal, small or large, has considered nature conservation and biodiversity and wherever possible we would expect to see existing features retained and opportunities for new features to be created. 

Cambridgeshire District Level Licensing - Great Crested Newts  

District Level Licensing is now available in East Cambridgeshire and additional information can be found on the GOV.UK (external link) website 

If you are a developer proposing to develop land where your work will disturb or damage great crested newt (GCN) habitat (ponds and land around ponds).  You must apply for a licence to prevent any illegal actions to this protected species. 

There are now a few different ways to apply for a licence from Natural England to do development or other work that may affect great crested newts: 

  • District Level Licensing 

Cambridgeshire has a District Level Licensing (DLL) scheme (external link) which is a quicker and simpler option to applying for a GCN mitigation licence.  

  • GCN Mitigation Licence 

Apply for a traditional GCN mitigation licence (external link).   

  • A Low Impact Class Licence  

This scheme only applies where impacts to GCN and their habitat are considered to be small scale.  This is implemented through a consultant ecologist who is registered for the scheme.  

Benefits of district level licensing 

  • Better conserves GCN 
  • Is simple to use 
  • Offers developers certainty in terms of costs and timescales 
  • Means developments that have been through planning will not be held up by protracted post-planning licensing 
  • Results in lots of high value, secure ponds for newts which are managed and monitored for the long term 

The cost to join the DLL scheme 

Natural England have put together this note (PDF) to explain the breakdown of fees and how they calculate the cost to join the scheme, together with some examples. 

More information on DLL 

  • What is District Level Licensing and where is it available?  

Please see the Info sheet produced by Natural England (PDF)  

  • Webinars  

Natural England ran a series of webinars with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) to provide more information on DLL: 

Natural England's DLL Framework document 

This Framework document sets out the overarching principles for Natural England's expectations for applications for organisational licences and will also apply to Natural England in the administration of its own DLL schemes.  This document is aimed at helping organisations who are interested in participating in DLL.  This document explains how Natural England approaches the assessment of such a scheme under the legal licensing tests and relevant policy, and the documents and mechanisms that are likely to enable a licence to be granted. 

Data open to all 

As part of the district level licensing project, Natural England completed the largest ever survey of its type for great crested newts across England, funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Read their blog (external link) to find out more about this open and published data.