Protected species survey and conservation licence

If protected species are present you will need a licence if you plan to:

  • carry out any kind of research or surveying work that may cause disturbance
  • damage or obstruct access to a breeding or resting place

How to get a protected species survey

You will need to apply for a survey and conservation licence if you plan to disturb protected species or their habitats.

You should carry out surveys of protected species and their habitats at the right time of the year. You should allow time for the survey to take place when planning your project.

You will need to employ an ecologist to carry out a survey for you.

If you are submitting a planning application, the ecologist should provide enough information in the report for the planning authority to determine the planning application.

Survey report

The ecologist should provide a written report of the results of the assessment.

The report should include:

  • when the survey work was carried out
  • how the survey work was carried out
  • who carried out the survey
  • if further surveys are required
  • details of any mitigation work
  • recommendations of when the building work should start
  • any monitoring that should be done after completion of the work

You will need to submit the report as this forms the basis for the method statement and forms part of your licence application.

When you don’t need a licence

You don’t need a licence if you can undertake the survey work without causing disturbance, such as looking for animal droppings, or holts or burrows.

If you are surveying animals, you should ensure that you keep your distance and avoid locations where animals are breeding.

Photography and filming

You must apply for a licence if you are disturbing protected species to take photos or to film them.

We only grant licences where there is a clear need for the photographs or filming to take place.

We only grant licences to experienced photographers. You must show that you can cause minimal disturbance to protected species.

Professional photographers and filmmakers must name an ecologist on their licence application. The ecologist will tell you if you have the necessary experience or training.

It is not necessary for ecologists to photograph protected species to show their presence in survey reports.

Apply for a licence

If you want to apply for a survey licence and have not had one before, you will need to show that you have the necessary training and experience.

We can issue licences for capturing, marking and radio-tracking. We issue licences for specific sites that are for a limited period only.

If you are disturbing the species or altering a breeding site or resting place you will need a conservation licence.

We will issue licences for specific sites; these licences are for a limited period.

Licensing more invasive techniques requires a detailed scientific project method statement which you must submit with your survey and conservation licence.

Each species has its own detailed scientific project method statement. You can find the template on the protected species licence page.

Renew your licence

You can renew your survey licence using the survey licence reporting and renewal application form.

Report your activities on a licence

You will need to submit a report on the activities you have done under your licence and send it with your renewal application to our species team.

Amend your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the survey licence amendment request form.

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