County Newt Officers x4

NatureSpace

Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire
£26,000 pa

Paid • Full Time • Permanent

naturespaceuk.com [email protected]

Sectors: ecology, conservation & wildlife

Closing date: Friday, 25th June 2021  


The Newt Officer role

There is a ‘LPA Newt Officer’ in each county where the NatureSpace District Licensing scheme is running and they act as the critical liaison point between NatureSpace and the Local Planning Authorities, helping the scheme to run well for the LPA planners and local developers, and deliver great conservation outcomes for great crested newts. The Newt Officer will understand the extent, scope and detail of the scheme, raise awareness of the scheme internally within the local planning authority (especially with planning colleagues), understand planning and licensing requirements, ensure the required processes are followed internally, and monitor and advise on compliance and enforcement measures. The Newt Officer will also raise awareness of the scheme to developers, consultants and agents.

This is an exciting opportunity to play a critical role in a ground-breaking project, delivering a step-change in the conservation of great crested newts. The job would suit either a conservationist or a planner, either early or mid-career, looking to join a small, friendly company that is working with planning authorities and NGOs to deliver better conservation outcomes.

Background

Natural England is rolling out ‘District Level Licensing’ across much of England. As part of this, NatureSpace manages a series of ‘District Licences’ which have been granted to planning authorities across central and southern England. The scheme allows planning authorities to authorise (under defined terms) activities which affect newts at the same time as they grant planning permission. The District Licensing scheme has significant advantages for newts (and wider biodiversity benefits) through a fully funded long-term region-wide conservation strategy that creates high quality habitat at a landscape scale. The scheme benefits both developers and planners because the licensing process for great crested newts is simplified and streamlined.

The District Licensing scheme is administered by NatureSpace, is adopted by the Local Planning Authorities, is regulated and approved by Natural England and is fully supported by the country’s leading amphibian and freshwater NGOs – the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust. The habitat creation, management and monitoring are delivered by a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society – the Newt Conservation Partnership, which works with landowners and managers to create and manage ponds and other habitats across the region.

Employment and location

These are full time roles. The successful candidates will be employed by NatureSpace Partnership to support planning authorities in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Gloucestershire. The posts are home-based but with regular visits to Council offices to work alongside and support planning and ecology teams.

The role will be mainly desk based but will also require site visits across Council areas. There will also be some additional travel requirements for attending annual meetings and training sessions. The role requires high standards of self-management but is perfect for an independent and self-reliant home-worker.

Main duties:

Raise general awareness of GCN licensing requirements and the optional licensing scheme

  • With developers, planning agents & ecologists – through LPA websites, literature, pre- (and during) application discussions & correspondence, etc.
  • Within the LPA - promote the scheme, and the newt conservation strategy, across all appropriate staff and Council members.

Ensure good planning decisions

  • Ensure planning officers are familiar with the scheme and the process (dealing with NatureSpace certificates, reports and authorisations)
  • Assess planning applications to assess potential ecological impacts (specifically impacts on great crested newts) to ensure that developments properly identify and where appropriate, address their ecological impacts.
  • Provide clear, timely, accurate and specific advice to ecologists and planning officers on any development in respect of great crested newts and the options/requirements for licensing including the district licensing scheme
  • Support planning officers to ensure that the District Licence requirements for developments wishing to use the District Licence are converted fully and appropriately into planning conditions and authorisations at the appropriate time
  • Monitor developer compliance with any newt-related planning conditions and advise planning and enforcement teams, NatureSpace and Natural England on any compliance and enforcement issues
  • Undertake site visits and meetings as required, to provide advice and guidance on newt licensing requirements

Good communication

  • Participate in and contribute to the Newt Officer network across England to ensure consistency and high standards
  • Provide a point of contact for newt-related matters for planning authorities to liaise with NatureSpace Partnership, the Newt Conservation Partnership and Natural England as required
  • Provide a point of contact for members of the public/consultants/developers and other interested parties wanting information and advice on the district licensing scheme
  • Ensure relevant Council staff and members are informed of the outputs and outcomes of the scheme, as appropriate.

Qualifications & experience, ideally:

  1. A relevant degree and/or experience in: nature conservation, ecology, environmental management or planning
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the UK planning system, including ecological impact assessment and/or biodiversity in planning
  3. Knowledge of European protected species legislation, licensing, planning and licensing policies
  4. A genuine enthusiasm for ecology and conservation in the UK
  5. A full driving licence with access to a car for business travel.

Key skills, ideally:

  1. Highly organised, methodical, conscientious and self-reliant - able to juggle and prioritise multiple cases, enquiries and tasks, and work efficiently to meet tight deadlines
  2. An excellent communicator with good inter-personal skills - able to liaise proactively and confidently with clients, consultants (e.g. ecologists, planners), planning and other regulatory authorities, NGO partners and colleagues
  3. Highly literate, able to prepare documents quickly and diligently to a high standard, following defined processes, protocols and guidance.
  4. Self-motivated and independent - able to work flexibly and with minimal supervision, as part of a small, dispersed team
  5. Willingness and ability to travel locally around the County as necessary
  6. Practical first-hand experience in great crested newt survey, mitigation practice and licensing
  7. Competence in using GIS software, preferably ArcGIS or QGIS

To Apply:

Send your CV and a covering letter to Sarah.garratt@naturespaceuk.com before 5pm on Friday 25th June 2021.