We're the only ecology consultancy that will refund your money if you don't get planning based on our advice (terms apply)

Key Facts: EPSL

European Protected Species Licence (EPSL)

Thank you for the opportunity to support your development ambitions.

Arbtech is widely acknowledged to be the leading ecological consultancy in the UK, specialising exclusively in arboriculture and ecology for planning and development sector clients.

Blowing our trumpet; we have been established since 2005 and since then we have been there, done that and got the t-shirts for just about any tree or protected species issue you could possibly face on a site of the proposed development.

We now have over 80 team members, and all are directly employed consultants. Known internally as ‘Arbtechers’, they have done literally thousands of surveys over careers spanning in some cases decades, in both the public and private practice sectors. All are well versed in planning policy and wildlife law, as well as having developed good working relationships with the local authorities in their regions.

How do we leverage local relationships and yet offer fixed fees throughout the UK, Crown Dependencies and Ireland? We do this by having approximately half of our staff based at home in strategic locations. So, whether you’re in Sunderland or Southampton, we can cut costs and delays for you at a fixed, all-inclusive price.

If you would like to talk to someone about your development ambitions for your site, please do ask – it’s what we’re here for.

Why do I need an ecologist?

You have been asked to apply to your Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), the licencing authority for protected species, for a European protected species licence. Absent a licence, your actions may otherwise constitute a criminal offence. The table below summarises the various legislation that requires you, by law, to obtain a European protected species licence before works to your property/site can commence.

Who is your SNCO?
EnglandNatural England
WalesNatural Resource Wales
ScotlandScottish Natural Heritage

Table 1 – Summary of Pertinent Legislation and Planning Policy Relevant to the Protection of EPS in
England, Scotland and Wales.

Location of HabitatTransposing EC
Habitats Directive
Other Relevant
Planning Policy
EnglandConservation of
Habitats and Species
Regulations 2010.

The Conservation of
Habitats and Species
Regulations 2012
Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 as

Countrywide and Rights
of Way Act 2000.

Natural Environment
and Rural Communities
Act 2006.
National Planning Policy
Framework (“NPPF”).
WalesConservation of
Habitats and Species
Regulations 2010.

The Conservation of
Habitats and Species
Regulations 2012.
Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 as
Countrywide and Rights
of Way Act 2000.
Natural Environment
and Rural Communities
Act 2006.
Technical Advice Note
(“TAN”) 5.

Planning Policy Wales
ScotlandConservation (Natural
Habitat & c.)
Regulations 1994 as
Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 as

The Nature
conservation (Scotland)
Act 2004.
National Planning Policy
Guidance (“NPPG”) 14
and Planning Advice
Note (“PAN”) 60.

Cumulatively, this legislation makes it illegal to:

  • Intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture EPS.
  • Deliberately disturb EPS habitat.
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to EPS habitat.
  • Possess or transport a EPS or any part of a EPS, unless acquired legally.
  • Sell, barter or exchange EPS, or any part of a EPS.

What is a European protected species (EPS) licence?

In deciding whether to grant or refuse a EPS licence application to permit a proposal impacting upon
EPS, the licencing authority must consider three tests under the various Statues and Regulations:

  1. A licence can be granted for the purposes of “preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of overriding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment”.
  2. The licencing authority shall not grant a licence unless they are satisfied “that there is no satisfactory alternative”.
  3. The licencing authority shall not grant a licence unless they are satisfied “that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range.”

How do you satisfy these tests?

Actually, it’s easier than it looks.

Test 1 is met by your local planning authority granting your planning consent. So if you have a planning consent in hand, you have already met the ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’ assessment.

Test 2 is met if you don’t have an alternative location for your proposal.

Test 3 is met by your application for an EPS licence, to include a Method Statement, Reason Statement and Work Schedule.

Other points to note

All wildlife planning conditions that can be discharged must be so before applying for the licence.
Finally, if you haven’t done so already (normally, you have), our consultant will need you to authorise him or her to procure Biological Records Data on your behalf, from a local records centre. S/he can then perform a desk study of local ecological receptors within 2km of your site (if any), and then incorporate these results into the Method Statement.

There are then 2 possible outcomes, as follows:

After applying for an EPS licenceWhat this means for you
Your licence is issued and you must follow it precisely (as it is a legal document) in order to avoid committing an offence and breaching the terms of issue.Your development can get underway!
Your licence has attracted a ‘Further Information Request’ from your SNCOYou must supply the information requested
before your SNCO can issue your EPS licence.

What happens next?

  1. Your SNCO will acknowledge the application with an automated e-mail to you or us. They will set out a date for your licence application to be determined. This is normally thirty working days from the application. At peak times, this deadline is often extended. (We know this is a long wait, and we do our best to ensure any delay to your application is minimised!)
  2. Sit back and wait for your licence application to be determined. Your SNCO may contact your consultant to clarify any minor issues (you will be made aware of this).
  3. Once your licence is issued, ensure a copy of the licence is made available to all parties involved in the project and that a copy is kept on site. Your SNCO randomly visits sites to check licences and compliance. SNCOs have been known to criminally prosecute licence breaches, so please speak to us if you are unsure of anything – we’re here to help!

Very important information

Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural Resource Wales currently maintain a 30 working day determination period for EPS licence applications.

Natural England aims to maintain the same 30 working day determination period. However, they have recently been taking upwards of 50 working days to determine EPS licence applications. You should be prepared for this, and possibly longer in the worse cast scenario.

We are entirely sympathetic to clients affected by this, however please understand that we are unable to accelerate your programme of works if the licence determination process delays it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What site access do we need?

If a site visit is required: We need to access all the internal and external areas of your site, including any buildings, compounds and other structures, including loft spaces and any other voids (these need to be unobstructed). We will also need to make some ground-level assessment of any trees that may be impacted by your development proposals (if any). Otherwise; none.

How do I book?

Simply complete and return our Survey Booking Form along with your payment.

To make your booking as simple as possible, we accept most forms of debit and credit card, including American Express.

You can pay online or directly over the phone by calling one of our friendly administrative team on 01244 661170.

Where are you based/do you cover …………?

Our head office is a pleasant little barn-conversion in Cheshire. We also have an office in central London, near Liverpool Street station. We are able to offer our extremely competitive, fixed fee services throughout England and Wales because the majority of our 80-strong team of Arbtechers are home-based, and thus local to you.

All of our team are permanent, full-time, direct employees (not associates or subcontractors, though we do employ them from time to time to help with large or complex jobs), and their ability to strike out locally to sites is one of the main advantages of using Arbtech. Each of our consultants knows their ‘patch’ intimately; borne out of several hundred surveys each year passing through your local authority’s planning system.

Do you charge mileage or other fees?

All our costs are inclusive of our time, travelling expenses, and your report.

Are you sure you want to leave without a free quote?

Get a Quote

No thanks, I don't need a quote