To consider a report by the Conservation Officer, Communities & Environment which seeks to provide an update on new funding available for pond creation and restoration, for the purpose of the conservation of great crested newts through Natural England District Level Licensing (DLL) scheme.
The Conservation Officer, Communities & Environment submitted a report which sought to provide an update on new funding available for pond creation and restoration, for the purpose of the conservation of great crested newts through Natural England District Level Licensing (DLL) scheme.
Members were informed that great crested newts (GCN) had seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years despite being legally protected. The new ‘District Level Licensing’ scheme (DLL) better protects this species by using conservation payments from developers to create new ponds in locations that would benefit the species.
It was reported that the scheme would create a network of ponds providing habitat for GCN, helping to join up sometimes isolated populations and helping them to thrive.
Members noted that Natural England, in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, would invest developer payments not only into creating or restoring new ponds but also maintaining and monitoring the ponds, for the long term (25 years).
Members were informed that Natural England had randomly sampled ponds throughout the Leeds district in 2018, using a technique called eDNA analysis which could detect the presence of GCN through water samples. This data, combined with existing biological records had enabled them to map Strategic Opportunity Areas for GCN conservation. These were the areas targeted for this funding subject to meeting the necessary criteria to be eligible.
Members sought clarity on how to identify potential pond sites
The Conservation Officer said, if you considered a particular area of land may be suitable for pond creation or restoration within the specified mapped areas (Details circulated separately) Yorkshire Wildlife Trust should be contacted in the first instance, who would assess suitability of the site firstname.lastname@example.org. Natural England would give preference to sites that could support at least 2 ponds or more.
The criteria to consider before applying was as follows:
o Any site must sit within one of the Strategic Opportunity Areas (SOAs).
o The minimum and optimum size of each pond is 100m2. The minimum depth at the centre of the pond is 1m.
o It must be within 500m of another existing pond.
o Ground conditions need to be such that the pond will hold water a minimum of one summer in every three (please note that ponds requiring liners are not normally funded).
o The location should be within 50m of suitable terrestrial habitat (taller grasses, scrub, woodland or hedgerows).
o If in a grazed landscape or where disturbance could occur any ponds would need to be fenced (this can be included in the funding) by a minimum 3m buffer zone.
o The pond must be in an area not likely to be polluted by runoff.
o Chosen locality should not be liable to flood or be at risk of suffering ingress by fish or excessive use by wildfowl.
o Any area chosen must not be contaminated by invasive non-native species (e.g. Himalayan Balsam or Crassula helmsii).
o Restorations ONLY – all ponds put forward must be in late successional stages (choked with vegetation), devoid of water or covered in a thick layer of anaerobic sediment.
o If successful, ponds will be monitored and maintained by Natural England for 25 years.
In offering comment Members suggested the East Leeds Country Park may also be a suitable location for this type of pond creation. It was also pointed out that the Alwoodley area overlapped with a number of North Yorkshire Parish Councils and would it be possible to circulate details to Parish Councils and major land owners in the area.
Members were informed that Lotherton Hall was already been considered as a possible location.
The Chair suggested that if she could be provided with the requested information, that information would in turn be forwarded on.
Members sought the definition of a pond, “when was a pond a pond”
Members were informed that a pond could be defined as a body of water, which could vary in size between 1 square meter and 2 hectares (equivalent in size to about 2.5 football pitches) and which holds water for four months of the year or more. Ponds are not connected to each other or to other water bodies – they are only fed by rainwater or groundwater.
The Chair thanked officers for their attendance and contributions commenting the presentation had been informative and useful.
(i) That the contents of the report be noted
(ii) That details of the funding opportunities for pond creation and restoration for Great Crested Newt Conservation be circulated Parish Councils and major land owners in the area