- deliberately capture, injure or kill any European Protected Species (EPS)
- to deliberately disturb them
- to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place.
In addition, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a EPS while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection, or to obstruct access to any structure or place the species uses for shelter or protection.
Licences can, however, be issued to permit otherwise prohibited action under the above legislation providing three licensing tests are met (the purpose test – such as ‘imperative reasons for overriding public interest’, the ‘no satisfactory alternative’ test and the ‘favourable conservation status’ test). For example, if a bat roost or a great crested newt pond will be damaged or destroyed during development works a mitigation licence must be applied for prior to undertaking those works.
The impacts of the (licensed) works must be mitigated for accordingly to ensure that the action authorised will not be detrimental to maintaining the population of the species concerned in their natural range (the FCS test). This may mean, using the above examples, that an appropriate replacement roost or two replacement newt ponds and suitable terrestrial habitat must be created as compensation for the habitat losses brought about by the development.
You can apply for a mitigation licence at any time of the year, once full planning permission has been granted or outline planning with all relevant planning conditions/reserved matters relating to wildlife have been discharged. Licences can normally only be issued once these matters have been resolved.
Applications for licences should be made to the relevant statutory conservation body: in England, Natural England; in Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales; and in Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage.
You will need to employ the services of an experienced professional ecological consultant to undertake the relevant surveys to inform the licence application and to prepare this on your behalf.
Natural England aims to determine whether a licence should be issued within 30 days of receipt of the completed application and all necessary accompanying documents.
Currently there is no fee payable for this type of licence.
Species specific advice and guidance relating to each particular species is found within these pages.
Download application forms for:
- Licence application to possess European protected species
- European Protected Species: mitigation licence application form