When you need to apply for a protected species licence

You may need a licence to carry out certain activities. Find out how to apply for a protected species licence.

When you need a licence

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

You’ll need a licence if your work is to:

  • prevent damage to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, property or archaeology
  • protect public health and safety, such as demolishing an unsafe derelict building that hosts a bat roost
  • maintain or develop land, for example converting farmland or a brownfield site to housing
  • prevent disease among species
  • sell, own, exhibit or transport protected species
  • survey for the presence of wildlife on your land for science or educational research or for conservation work

When you don’t need a licence

You can carry out work without a licence if you can organise your work in a way that will not disturb or harm the species or its habitat.

You don’t need a licence if:

  • you are controlling pests such as rats and cockroaches
  • you are not planning to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a protected species
  • you are not planning to capture, kill, injure or disturb a protected species

Who can apply for a licence

You can apply for a licence if you are at least 18 years old. You can also apply if you are at least 16 years old and have wildlife licensing qualifications or awards, or if the application relates to the possession, transport, sale or exchange of a protected species.

You must be at least 16 years old to act as an accredited agent or assistant to a licensee.

An accredited agent is a person named on the licence who may act on behalf of the licensee in their absence.

An ecological assistant is employed by the nominated ecologist to work under the direct supervision of the nominated ecologist of their accredited agents at all times.

Ecological assistants do not need to be named on the application form or licence. However, the nominated ecologist or accredited agent should keep a log of all assistants who have worked under a particular licence, as they may be asked to provide this at a later date.

Our licences

You must apply for a licence if you’re doing any activity that affects a protected species.

This includes:

  • disturbing, trapping or handling protected species
  • damaging their habitats, for example by restoring a pond or building a housing development

How to apply

You can apply for licences online.

To find out if you need to apply for a licence, see the full list of licences for:

Development, infrastructure or maintenance licence

We issue licences for development, infrastructure or maintenance work that could affect protected species or their resting places. These could include:

  • loft conversion, re-roofing, barn conversion if the building has a bat roost
  • felling a tree that contains a bat roost
  • ground works that would affect a pond and surrounding habitat used by great crested newts
  • removal of a hedgerow used by dormice
  • works to a riverbank containing an otter holt
  • a new housing development on land containing a badger sett

You may need to show that the work is necessary and that there is no alternative way to do the work without affecting the protected species.

We may refuse a licence application if the work is not necessary or does not justify the harm it would cause to the species.

You may need to employ an ecologist to advise you before applying for a licence.

Survey and conservation licences

Anyone undertaking a survey that may disturb a protected species will need to hold a survey and conservation licence from us.

You can carry out some surveys such as bat detector surveys without a licence. Only licensed surveyors may enter a bat roost as this may result in disturbance.

Possession, transport and sale of protected species licence

You also need a licence to own, transport, sell or exchange a protected species

Extend your licence

You can sometimes apply for an extension to your licence if you’re unable to complete an activity before a licence expires.

Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Amending your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.

Amendment request form
Change of licensee
Change of ecologist form

When to contact us

You can contact us for help at any time during your licence application.