Natural England: Licensing

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Sue Hayman Sue Hayman Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many licences Natural England has issued for activities which may disturb or kill European protected species in each year since 2010.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Natural England does not hold collated data prior to 2015 in a readily accessible format. From 2015 to present, Natural England has issued 10,808 European Protected Species (EPS) licences linked with activities that may ‘disturb’ a species. In the same period Natural England has issued 72 EPS licences linked with activities that may ‘kill’ a species. Totals for each year are included below:

EPS licences issued for activities related to disturbance

2015 – 3068 licences

2016 – 2333 licences

2017 – 2392 licences

2018 – 2507 licences

2019 – 508 licences to date

EPS licences issued for activities related to killing

2015 – 10 licences

2016 – 5 licences

2017 – 17 licences

2018 – 31 licences

2019 – 9 licences to date

The majority of these licences involve the disturbance of bat species or great crested newts as a result of house building or other development activity. Smaller numbers relate to survey or research, or to different species such otter or hazel dormice.

Each licence application is carefully assessed and must pass three legal tests:

  • the activity must be of overriding public interest;

  • there must be no satisfactory alternative that will cause less harm to the species; and

  • the activity must not harm the long-term conservation status of the species (so the applicant may need to create new habitats or alternative roosting sites, for example)

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