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Bats and Newts - a change from Brexit and Trump

In recent months the political uncertainty following Brexit and the election of Donald Trump has been the subject of choice for articles, blogs, commentators and speakers.

Consequently I rather enjoyed listening to one of the speakers at yesterday’s York Property Forum talk about bats and newts, not just because it was a change from the norm but also as it was a timely reminder of just one of the many other issues and uncertainties developers can face.

The UK has a number of animal and plant species which are legally protected and as a consequence the consideration of protected species can be key to the determination of a development proposal. In order to satisfy the local planning authority it may well be necessary to carry out surveys and obtain appropriate licences before commencing activity on site in order to avoid committing a criminal offence.

Unfortunately it is not just a case of simply carrying out a survey, obtaining a licence and then continuing swiftly with the development. The process is lengthy and delays can be significant. Several separate visits are necessary and as bats hibernate between November and March those surveys can only be carried out between May and October. The period for newts is even shorter and runs from mid March until mid June.

The key to avoiding delay is good planning. If you are dealing with land with protected species on it where there is an intention to develop then it is absolutely vital to have the site surveyed by an appropriate qualified consultant very early on at the pre-planning stage of a proposed development. Where bats, newts or any other protected species are present, the necessary licence will need to be obtained and the species dealt with in accordance with that licence.

In this welcome departure from our turbulent political landscape, unfortunately, Brexit still got a mention if only to advise that whilst European legislation does indeed play a large part in protecting these species, much of the legislation is embedded in UK law in any event and will continue to apply following our withdrawal from the European Union.

For further information on this article or if you require advice, please contact Kirsty Barsby.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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