The following Environment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Statutory designations protect England’s terrestrial natural environment under national law and government policy. When reviewing planning applications, local authorities (LAs) are required to consider the effect a proposed development will have on designated sites and areas. For general guidance, see Practice Note: Designated areas.
The government has published guidance to assist LAs in this regard. In particular, Chapter 15 of the National Planning Policy Framework outlines what LAs need to take into account when assessing planning applications with regards to the conservation and enhancement of the natural environment. Further specialist guidance is provided on various issues, including statutory duties for protected sites and public body responsibilities for SSSIs.
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are places with wildlife or geological features of special interest locally. LNRs are declared by LAs under section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. There are now over 1,400 LNRs in England, which cover over 37,000 hectares. To qualify for LNR status, a site must be of importance for wildlife, geology, education or public enjoyment. Some are also nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
LNRs must be controlled by the LA through ownership, lease or agreement with the owner. The main aim must be to care for the natural features which make the site special.
An LA may consider it desirable or necessary to apply byelaws
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