6th October 2021

Licensing digital service improvement - project update

(c) Hugh Clark

(This item is from Natural England)

Natural England have commissioned a programme of work to radically improve our licensing service through digital transformation. It’s a very exciting time for us as we have an opportunity to make a real difference to the work we do and service we provide, and this year we have the expertise and funding in place to take this work several steps forward.

What’s happened so far?

In February we commissioned a crack team of specialists to help develop and deliver the project. We are using the latest approaches to digital project delivery, and in-depth user research to identify options for improvement centred around the needs of those who use our service. That’s all of us in Natural England as well as you our customers: homeowners, developers, other Government Departments, Local Planning Authorities, ecologists, environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and many more.

We have now completed the first phase of work, called a Discovery, where the problems and potential solutions have been identified. We are now in the next phase called Alpha, where different solutions to the problems identified in Discovery are being tried out.

What are we doing now?

You may begin to notice changes to the way we do licensing over the coming weeks and months. For example there will be changes to decision documents and alternative options to apply for licences including using online forms which are already being piloted for some licence types. These changes represent quick wins to improve the way we do licensing while we design options for longer term improvements.

Over the past few weeks our design team have been building prototypes for a European Protected Species mitigation licence application. A group of willing external customers have been helping us test the prototypes and their feedback is directly influencing each iteration of the design. I’d like to extend a big thank you to those who have already taken part, but we still need to continue to test over the next few months and will need your help to do that.

How can I get involved?

If you have experience applying for European protected species mitigation licences (EPS-Mit) and would like to be part of shaping how you apply for these licences in the future, please complete our sign-up form to register your interest. The test sessions are all remote, usually last about 1 hour and can fit around your schedule.

Our sign up form contains ten very simple questions to gather information on how satisfied you are with our current services. Please do take the time to complete this survey as it will help us with to evaluate our service going forward.

If you would like to get in touch with us to ask more about the project, please email: sd.digitalserviceimprovement@naturalengland.org.uk

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