Natural England - Land use planning: Frequently asked questions

Land use planning: Frequently asked questions

Sending land use consultations to Natural England

Contacting Natural England

European Protected Species Licences

Standing Advice and Standard Letters

Customer feedback


Why has Natural England developed a new approach to land use casework?

Like many other public sector organisations, we are in the process of improving how we conduct our business so we can become more efficient and enhance our customer service. As part of these changes, we are enhancing our services regarding development control and forward planning, so we can provide you with the right advice and information you need when making decisions within the context of your own statutory obligations for the natural environment.

On average we receive 23,000 land use planning consultations: (48kb)pdf document per year. To ensure timely and consistent responses we have improved the way we deal with consultations, see Planning and development.

By introducing these improvements and by working in partnership with you, we can ensure the natural environment is at the heart of local delivery decisions providing positive outcomes for both people, places and wildlife. Our improvements also include better join-up with the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission when offering advice. This will help us to provide you with consistency in the service we offer you.

Sending land use consultations to Natural England

Where should I send a land use consultation?

All Land Use planning consultations should now be sent electronically to If the consultation is particularly large or only available in hard copy, contact us first so that we can provide advice on postal options. See the question and answer below for more detail on how to deal with hard copy consultations.

I am unable to send the consultation electronically what should I do?

If the consultation is only available in hard copy, contact the Natural England Enquiries Team (0300 060 3900) first so that we can provide advice on postal options. If it is not possible to consult us electronically, consultations should be sent to the following postal address:

Natural England
Consultation Service
Hornbeam House
Electra Way
Crewe Business Park

I have previously sent a consultation to Natural England relating to the same proposal. Do I send my latest consultation to the person who provided the last response?

Please can you ensure that any consultation you send to Natural England is sent to the consultations mailbox ( rather than to the individual that provided you with a response previously. We will ensure that consultations dealing with the same development are linked together.

How can I help Natural England deal with my consultation promptly?

Please follow these steps to help us deal with your consultations promptly:

  • If possible use e-communications.
  • If the consultation is particularly large or only available in hard copy, contact us first so that we can provide advice on postal options. Send large documents on a compact disc unless otherwise requested.
  • Be specific about why you are consulting on a particular application. For example, what aspect of the proposals or the site do you require views on. This will help us reply to you more quickly.
  • Provide all necessary information to Natural England, to enable us to give a substantive reply. Please note the 21 day deadline for Development Management consultations will start when Natural England, as the statutory consultee, has received all the information it needs to provide an informed response (ODPM Circular 08/2005 - Guidance on changes to the Development Control System).
  • Identify the timescale for a response if longer than the 21 day service standard we offer.
  • clearly label the planning application and associated documents: (97kb)pdf document on your website so that it is clear what each document is (e.g. application form, location plan, ecological survey). 

When can I expect a response to the land use consultation I have submitted?

Our service standard is to respond to 95% of all consultations within the deadlines set out in ODPM Circular 08/05 – Guidance on changes to the Development Control System. Please note the 21 day deadline starts when we receive all the information we require to provide an informed response. Where possible we try to meet shorter deadlines but we are unable to guarantee this.

Contacting Natural England

I have a land use planning query I would like to discuss with Natural England. Who should I contact?

The Natural England Enquiries Team (0300 060 3900) is your first point of contact with Natural England regarding any general Land Use planning queries.  Please be aware that staff in the Enquiries team do not have the specialist technical knowledge to answer detailed planning queries.  If they are unable to resolve the query themselves, they will take some details from you and pass your enquiry on to the appropriate team in Natural England to provide a response.

I have submitted a land use consultation and would like to know what is happening to it. How can I find out?

If you do not already have a named contact in Natural England, please contact the Natural England Enquiries Team (0300 060 3900).  Our staff in the Enquiries team will take some preliminary information (including your planning application reference number) to help identify the consultation you are enquiring about and will then pass on your query to the relevant team with a request to provide you with an update.

Read our customer commitment

At Natural England we are committed to delivering an efficient and effective service to our customers and have published our Customer Promise, which sets out the standard of service our customers can expect from our staff.

European Protected Species Licences

The proposal I’m assessing appears to need a European Protected Species (EPS) licence as well. How does the licensing process interact with the planning process?

Natural England is the competent authority for issuing wildlife licences. In most cases, we expect planning consent to be in place before considering an application for a wildlife licence. You can read more about how Natural England assesses EPS licence applications, the interaction with the planning process and the distinction between our statutory consultee and competent authority roles in European Protected Species and the Planning Process (NE292)external link.

You can find more information on our licensing web pages; EPS licensing process is described in detail in this guidance: (928kb)pdf document.

Standing Advice and Standard Letters

Why has Natural England introduced Standing Advice?

We have provided Standing Advice because it provides benefits to all parties involved in the planning process. Standing Advice allows Local Planning Authorities to seek our views on issues to which the advice relates without the need to formally consult us, saving time and effort. We have published our Standing Advice on our website so that applicants can consult it prior to submitting applications; our advice is transparent and available when it will be of greatest value. It also allows us to protect the features for which standing advice applies, whilst helping Natural England to direct its resources at the most complex planning consultations.

Where can I find Natural England’s standing advice for protected species?

See Standing advice for protected species.

Why does Natural England use standard letters for some planning consultation responses?

Natural England is consulted on around 23,000 applications every year. Many of these consultations have similar issues. By using standard letters, we can provide consistent advice around these issues, and it helps us to ensure that we concentrate our limited resources on the most complex planning cases.

What should I do if I think the standard letter I receive does not answer my query?

In the first instance, you should query the response with the adviser who signed the letter. This is the same process as if you had received a bespoke letter from us. Standard Letters still represent Natural England’s formal view on a planning consultation and carry the same weight as a bespoke letter.

Customer feedback

How can I provide feedback on Natural England’s land use planning service?

We now attach an electronic customer feedback form: (220kb)pdf document to every consultation response we send. Please complete this to let us know how we are doing and if there are any further improvements you think we can make.

What do you do with the customer feedback forms?

The customer feedback forms show that 89% (December 2012) of our customers are satisfied with the service they have received, but we know we can still do more to improve this. We look at all customer feedback form responses at the end of each month and agree if there are any changes we need to make based on the feedback to improve our service. Any agreed actions are then taken forward; your feedback is therefore key in helping us identify areas of improvement.