Southern Water is one of the first companies to be given a new-fast track approval process for engineering works which might affect the habitats of rare or protected species.
The licence from Natural England, the Government’s adviser for the natural environment, means a quicker approval process for engineering projects and development in recognition of high quality work protecting vulnerable wildlife, including dormice, badgers and crested newts.
We are one of the first four out of 17 major water companies in England and Wales to receive an ‘organisational licence’. The company will continue to carry out the same level of care and scrutiny and will continue to report on outcomes to Natural England.
“From a business point of view and investment in the environment, this will mean that work on key schemes will start sooner and there will be less bureaucracy but that is not the important point for me,” said Ian McAulay, Chief Executive, “We’re delighted to have this gesture of trust in our stewardship of the habitats and wildlife living in them. I am very proud that our efforts to be a friend of the environment and to stick to the best possible practice in everything we do has been recognised by Natural England.”
Whenever Southern Water undertakes a new project, it conducts a careful ecological survey to analyse the wildlife living in the area. The emphasis is placed on sensitive or protected species and if precious animals such as great crested newts or dormice are found then no work starts until a careful plan to prevent and mitigate any possible damage to habitats.
“This is fantastic news for Southern Water but especially for our ecologists and environmental advisors who work in close harmony with Natural England. I know I speak for everyone in the company when I say the reduced paperwork and new way of working will actually increase protection of our important species and habitats” said Dr Nicola Meakins, Southern Water’s Environmental Manager.
Andrew Smith, Natural England Area Manager for Thames, Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said:
“Natural England is pleased to have worked with Southern Water over the last year to develop this Organisational Licence, which will benefit both Southern Water and Natural England by removing the need for numerous individual licences. The licence has been issued based on Southern Water’s experience in working with mitigation licences; avoiding impacts where possible and designing mitigation strategies that follow best practice for the species.
“The development of new strategic licences, such as this, is part of Natural England’s licensing improvement work to reduce our regulatory processes and we are hoping to work with more water utility companies.”