Natural England to start charging for licences.
Natural England have completed their consultation on licence charges, and have published a report which summarises the new fees (some of which have been revised due to negative responses). The report can be found here:
The charges will have a big impact on the cost to the developer, with NE now asking up to £680 for a bat licence. They are also going to charge for compliance checks. Up to now, our fees for a licence have just covered our costs in preparing the paperwork. There is no indication that they are planning to lower the burden of excessive bureaucracy placed on consultants, so there will be little opportunity for us to lower our input to reduce overall fees. Neither have they shown any inclination to remove some impacts from the requirement for a licence (such as low impacts on common species). However, there is now a reduced expectation for excessive repeat surveys – recently we have managed to get licences without repeat surveys at all – so we will be able to cut developer costs here.
We can hope is that they will now be more efficient in processing applications, though personally I have doubts that, based on recent performance, DEFRA can deliver anything other than increased complexity and reduced efficiency.
Householders are generally excempt from the charges.
We will ensure that the direct costs are clearly itemised on our invoices. The charges will start in October.