Wildlife Licence Charging

Summary of Natural England’s Consultation on Charging for Wildlife Licences

Natural England (NE) have consulted on proposals to charge for wildlife licences and published their findings in May 2018.

This  is an interpretation by JPR Environmental of NE’s findings from the consultation and an outline of what will happen next.

Respondents’ views:
 

There was broad agreement with the principle to charge for licences but with some strong caveats: the service for wildlife licence applications would need to improve and certain activities, currently under licence, would need to be exempt from charges

Mitigation licences:
  • Charges will be fixed if the licence is considered non-complex (currently up to £690) and variable if considered complex. Complex licences will incur a fixed fee for the compliance check plus a variable fee – currently at £101/hour (complex licences are those that will take NE more than 5 hours to assess)
  • NE are aiming for there is to be a broad correlation between licence charges and the size of a development
  • Non-complex licences may still incur variable costs if significant additional time is required following a refusal of an application or a Further Information Request

District Level Licensing for great crested newts will be a variable cost and the date for implementation is given as post-April 2020.

Survey licences:
  • There are exemptions for some licence charges, e.g. for volunteers or for when the licence is being used exclusively for a scientific or conservation project. NE will continue to review the effectiveness of exemptions
  • Most survey licences will have a registration cost of £80 and then a continued registration fee of either £60 or £35 if completed online
Service commitments:
  • The aim will be for over 95% of mitigation licences to be determined within 30 days. NE is open to investigating options to fast-track applications further for a higher fee
  • NE will commit to do compliance checks on 5% of mitigation licence applications
What next?

The charging scheme has gained Parliamentary approval and was introduced as a Statutory Instrument under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 amendments which came into force on 1st October 2018.

It is unlikely that charging will be introduced before 2019 and charges will only be implemented once NE is confident that the service standard for licence delivery can be achieved.

Further reading:

Wildlife Licence Charges Consultation Analysis of response to the public consultation held between 11 December 2017 and 5 February 2018, May 2018: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-england/wildlife-licence-charges/results/wildlifelicenceconsultationresponsefinal17may2018.pdf

NE’s Wildlife Licensing Newsletter provides information on the introduction of wildlife licence charges – email EPS.Mitigation@naturalengland.org.uk to be added to the mailing list.