European protected species: apply for a mitigation licence (A12)

Apply for a licence to carry out work that may affect European protected species.

Applies to England


European protected species: mitigation licence application form (A12)

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You need a mitigation licence if your work will have impacts on European protected species (EPS) that would otherwise be illegal. This includes:

  • capturing, killing, disturbing or injuring them - on purpose or by not taking enough care
  • damaging or destroying their breeding or resting places - even accidentally
  • obstructing access to their resting or sheltering places - on purpose or by not taking enough care

You can use licence A12 for the following animal EPS:

  • Fisher’s estuarine moth
  • large blue butterfly
  • lesser whirlpool ramshorn snail
  • pool frog
  • wildcat

You can use licence A12 for the following plant EPS:

  • creeping marshwort
  • early gentian
  • fen orchid
  • floating water-plantain
  • Killarney fern
  • lady’s slipper orchid
  • shore dock
  • slender naiad
  • marsh saxifrage

Do not use this licence for the EPS that have their own mitigation licence application forms:

You need to follow the Marine Management Organisation guidance for marine EPS:

Apply for an A12 licence

To apply you must:

  • complete application form A12
  • complete a charge form
  • include a method statement to show what you’ll do to reduce the impacts of the proposed work on the affected species
  • include a reasoned statement to show that the activity fits the criteria and that there is no satisfactory alternative
  • include references to show that the ecological consultant has the necessary experience to apply for a mitigation licence - references are not needed if they’ve held a mitigation licence for the same species in the last 3 years

If the application is for a phased or multi-plot development, you need to provide:

  • a master plan
  • a habitat management and maintenance plan

You may need to pay for this licence.

Natural England will decide whether to issue a licence within 30 working days of receiving your application.

Use the European protected species (EPS) licensing policies

As part of your mitigation licence application, you may be able to use the EPS licensing policies to:

  • reduce the level of survey you need to carry out
  • reduce the mitigation requirements
  • improve flexibility on where you create habitats as a compensation measure

Find out when and how to use European protected species policies to benefit EPS.

The 3 licensing tests

Your licence application must pass 3 legal tests:

  • the activity must be for a certain purpose - for example, for scientific research or in the public interest
  • there must be no satisfactory alternative that will cause less harm to the species
  • the activity must not harm the long-term conservation status of the species - you may need to create new habitats to offset any damage

Find out more about the requirements for a European protected species licence.

When you need to pay

You may need to pay for an A12 licence. Natural England will assess your charge form and tell you:

  • if you need to pay
  • how much you’ll pay

Read the terms and conditions for paying for a wildlife licence.

When you do not need to pay

You may not need to pay for a licence if it’s:

  • to preserve public health and safety
  • to prevent the spread of disease
  • to prevent serious damage to property
  • to conserve a historic property
  • householder home improvements

How to pay

Natural England will send you an invoice when it approves your application.

You can pay by:

  • electronic bank transfer
  • debit or credit card by telephone - except American Express
  • cheque

Your invoice will give payment method details.

VAT does not apply to charges for wildlife licences.

You need to include your invoice number with your payment.

Natural England accepts purchase orders. If you want Natural England to add a purchase number to your invoice, you must include it in the invoice details in your charge form.

Report your actions

You must report any actions you took under this licence on the European protected species return form.

You must report within 2 weeks of your licence expiring, even if you’ve taken no action. Natural England may also ask you to submit interim reports.

Planning permission

If you need planning permission you should get it before applying for a mitigation licence.

Published 6 October 2014
Last updated 23 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. We've replaced the mitigation licence application form (A12).

  2. Added a section on how to use European protected species (EPS) policies to benefit EPS as part of your mitigation licence application.

  3. From 7 December 2020 you may need to pay for an A12 licence. Added charge screening form and updated A12 licence application form.

  4. Replaced application form with a revised, interactive PDF version.

  5. Updated version of application form added.

  6. First published.