Help provide a home for borough's great crested newts

18 May 2021

Farmers and landowners are invited to join others from across west Cheshire who have been providing new homes for great crested newts and other wildlife.
 
A total of 43 ponds were created in the borough over the last year as part of a new strategic licensing scheme, District Level Licensing (DLL).
 
Under District Level Licensing, developers make a conservation payment which is used to create or restore new ponds in locations that will benefit the species. It is helping to provide more homes for people and more habitat for great crested newts. 
 
Ponds are created or restored in areas known to be most suitable for this yellow-bellied amphibian to thrive. The ponds will be monitored and looked after for at least 25 years - all funded by developers.  
 
Natural England and Cheshire West and Chester are now seeking further landowners interested in creating or restoring ponds and habitats on their land.    
 
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: "Ponds represent a rich wildlife habitat which support many important freshwater plant and animal species.  
 
"The Council's Total Environment Team have been working with local farmers and landowners to identify potential sites to increase the number of ponds within the borough. 
 
"We are delighted with the positive response from farmers and landowners willing to create or restore ponds all of whom are helping to ensure the long term protection of this iconic species. 
 
"In Cheshire West and Chester, landowners can fully engage in creating or restoring ponds under expert guidance, which has really incentivised people to get involved. We are looking forward to continuing this exciting work."
 
Barnston Estate, at Sibbersfield Lane Field Farm in Chester, is one farm involved, having restored five ponds.  
 
Owner Edward Barnston said: "Our 10-year environmental strategy at Barnston Estate includes restoring all 59 ponds, planting another 10km of new hedgerows and planting 7.5km of river bank. By restoring our ponds, we are promoting aquatic life, boosting biodiversity and enhancing the environment.
 
"We would encourage other landowners to take this funding opportunity. Creating more thriving habitats for species across our borough is good for our natural environment."

Mark Jones, Habitat Delivery Manager at Natural England, said: "Operating at a landscape-scale, the district level licensing scheme is an example of how the environment and development can work together. 
 
"The scheme in Cheshire West and Chester is providing enormous benefits for people and wildlife as the one-off conservation payment made by developers ensures ponds are created, restored, maintained and monitored for 25 years in the areas that need them the most. 
 
"This benefits great crested newt and other wildlife including dragonflies, insects and birds whilst enabling developers and local authorities to deliver on their investment and home-building ambitions."
 
The next round of applications is now open for landowners interested in making space on their land for pond creation. Applications must come from within the Natural England target areas. Ponds also must conform to Natural England’s design specifications for size, depth and profile.  
 
Successful applications will receive funding of up to £2,700 per pond to cover the full costs of pond creation/restoration and include support and advice from the Council’s Total Environment Team.   
 
To find out more information on the DLL scheme and to nominate a site within the borough of Cheshire West and Chester please contact Joe Gough via email joe.gough@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
 
The DLL scheme was set up as an alternative to traditional great crested newt licensing and is funded by developer contributions where planning applications fall within identified zones potentially impacting upon the species. 
 
DLL schemes are now available across 155 districts. The approach was initially piloted by Natural England in partnership with Woking Borough Council and then working with local authorities across Cheshire and Kent.

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