NatureSpace is celebrating the fourth year of its ground-breaking great crested newt District Licensing Scheme, with almost 200 projects authorised, 148 ponds created, and more than £1.5 million put towards conservation so far.

Working in collaboration with the Newt Conservation Partnership and supported by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Freshwater Habitats Trust, the NatureSpace scheme funds creation and restoration of ponds, terrestrial habitat, and connectivity features.

The scheme, offers a simple and streamlined solution for great crested newt mitigation, which has declined significantly, providing developers with a quick, straightforward, and risk-free solution to newt mitigation, as well as hugely improved conservation outcomes for the species.

To date, the scheme is active in over 40 Local Authorities and has overseen some major development, with some of the biggest including Abbey New Homes in Milton Keynes, Bloor Homes in Buckinghamshire, and Wainhomes Severn Valley in Tewkesbury.

Despite protection under UK and European wildlife law, great crested newt numbers are still declining, and habitat loss is their biggest threat. The NatureSpace scheme, approved by Natural England, speeds up development delivery by providing a solution for newt licensing all year round, with no need to wait for the survey window which runs from mid-March through to June. In addition, it uses funds from applicants to create high quality aquatic and terrestrial habitat for the species. The scheme is accessible to all developers, from householders to major infrastructure and commercial development projects, with applicants able to receive a site assessment in just ten days.

 NatureSpace CEO, Dr Tom Tew said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the fourth year of our District Licensing Scheme. It seems like only yesterday we embarked on our journey to bring an alternative approach to standard licensing, and I’m so pleased with all we’ve achieved in that time. We look forward to continuing our growth over the next 12 months and benefiting our organisations, project partners, and wider network, as well as great crested newts. With all we’ve accomplished already, who knows where we will be in another four years’ time.”

So far, more than £1.5 million has been put towards conservation by NatureSpace, and 148 ponds have been created or restored for great crested newts. The scheme creates excellent quality habitats across the landscape, providing net gain not only for great crested newts but also a wide range of other biodiversity.

One example of this is at Bicester Garrison, which has extensive, high-quality wildlife habitat, however, many of the clean water ponds on site hadn’t been managed in some time and had become silted up and overshaded, meaning they were unlikely to be suitable for great crested newt breeding. NatureSpace, in partnership with the Newt Conservation Partnership, created two new ponds and restored two ponds at the site in 2020.

When these ponds were surveyed less than a year later the following spring, great crested newts were already present in all four of the ponds, and all had evidence of breeding. The two new ponds were also supporting breeding populations of common toad – a UK priority species. In 2021, a further two ponds were created to expand the area of clean water habitat available to newts and other freshwater wildlife. As a result of the scheme’s habitat work, the Garrison today remains an exceptional site for people’s wellbeing and wildlife, is rich in biodiversity, and includes a healthy great crested newt population.

To find out more about the NatureSpace scheme, visit: