Wildlife Licence Charges

Closed 5 Feb 2018

Opened 11 Dec 2017

Feedback updated 17 May 2018

We asked

Natural England consulted on a proposal to charge for Wildlife Licences on Defra’s behalf between December 2017 and February 2018. We asked your views on the proposal to introduce charges, the proposed price structure and the charge exemptions.

You said

You gave us a diverse range of views. There was support for the proposal to charge for mitigation licences provided this results in improved service delivery and for the proposed exemptions from charging. There were a number of challenges to the proposal related to the principle and cost of survey licences. Other respondents questioned the principle of charging, the charge rate, the cost of certain licences and the impact on wildlife from unlicensed activity.

We did

We have published a consultation response where we have outlined how we propose to address your concerns. These include: a commitment to improving the service performance for mitigation licences, alongside the implementation of charges; reducing proposed charges in some areas (particularly survey licences) to reflect projected efficiency savings; and additional charge exemptions for falconry licences. We will continue to consult with applicant groups on the proposal. We will be seeking parliamentary approval this summer for the charging scheme, to be introduced as a Statutory Instrument under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

Results updated 17 May 2018

The attached report (below) summarises the responses to the consultation on a proposal to charge for Wildlife Licences and sets out Natural England’s proposed course of action.



Natural England is inviting views about the way we fund the wildlife licence service in the future. We want to ensure this service offers value for money for licence applicants and the taxpayer and achieves good outcomes for wildlife.

You need a wildlife licence from Natural England if you plan to disturb or remove wildlife or damage habitats.

Natural England undertakes its licensing work in agreement with Defra. Natural England proposes to introduce charges for the statutory assessment and issue of wildlife licences. This will primarily affect licences issued under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

The proposal aims to:

  • improve the licensing service for customers by enabling investment in line with changes in customer demand;
  • change the licensing service from wholly taxpayer-funded to a mixture of taxpayer-funded and service user-funded, in line with Treasury and Cabinet Office principles for the funding of regulatory activity.

Charges will also include cost recovery for compliance monitoring. This will enable a consistent level of compliance checks to be sustained, which will improve conservation outcomes for wildlife.

Exemptions from charging are included in the proposal to enable the delivery of other government policies.  These include the preservation of health and safety, the prevention of serious damage to property or the spread of disease, householder development projects, conservation delivery projects and conservation research.

Natural England has powers to charge for licences under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Charging would begin in the second half of 2018 if approved.

We are seeking your views on:

  • the proposal to charge for wildlife licences;
  • the charging structure; and
  • the proposed exemptions from charging.

Why your views matter

In contrast with the majority of environmental licensing and permitting schemes, the wildlife licensing service has been wholly taxpayer-funded since it began.

There has been an increase in licence application numbers for many years, for example European Protected Species (EPS) mitigation licence applications rose from 1758 in 2009/10 to 2801 in 2015/16. Natural England has struggled to meet the demand for licences, particularly at peak periods. Natural England recognises that the resulting delays in issuing licences can cause significant impacts and increased costs for applicants.

Natural England is undertaking an ambitious programme of reform to streamline the licensing process, for example through the introduction of district level licences for great crested newts. Several measures have already been introduced which have cut the average processing time for licences by 25% over the last three years. For example, the bat low impact class licence, introduced in 2015, has been used for 38% of bat mitigation licences issued so far this year.

However, the trends that have led to the pressures on the licensing service are set to continue. The demand for licences is likely to increase further to support the Government aspiration to complete one million homes by 2020. Natural England aims to assess mitigation licences within 30 days of receipt of licence applications. Given the increasing pressures on the service, the recently introduced streamling measures alone are unlikely to be sufficient to achieve this target.

We are therefore inviting views about the way we fund these services in future to ensure value for money for licence applicants and the taxpayer.

What happens next

Our consultation on Wildlife Licence Charges was open from 11th December until 5th February and has now closed. We would like to thank all those who took the time to respond.

We will now be analysing these responses, as well as continuing to work with representative groups, in order to develop a final proposal.

We will publish a response to this consultation within no more than 12 weeks.

Thank you for your interest in this consultation. Please use the contact details on this page if you would like to get in touch with us.



  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
  • Environmental campaigners
  • Animal welfare campaigners
  • Food Business Operators
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Coastal local authorities
  • National Park Authorities
  • Aggregates sector
  • Energy sector
  • Industries and professional services
  • Environmental professional services
  • House Building Industry
  • Property Management
  • Households
  • Local Authorities
  • Fisheries Producer Organisations
  • Local Authorities
  • All Defra staff and ALBs
  • Farmers
  • Fishermen
  • SME businesses
  • Energy suppliers
  • Water suppliers
  • Horticulture Industry
  • Tenant Farmers
  • Agricultural Landlords
  • Professional and Membership Organisations/Agencies
  • Public Bodies
  • Consultants


  • Natural environment
  • Biodiversity
  • Animals
  • Sustainable development
  • Construction
  • Wildlife crime
  • Wildlife management
  • Protecting wildlife