Non-statutory designated areas

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Non-statutory designated areas
  • Conserving biodiversity
  • Heritage coasts
  • European Geoparks
  • Biosphere reserves
  • Local Wildlife Sites and Local Geological Sites
  • Trees and Woodland
  • Ancient woodland
  • Local Nature reserves

Non-statutory designated areas

Conserving biodiversity

Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERCA 2006) places a duty on all public authorities in England and Wales to have regard, in the exercise of their functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity. A key purpose of this duty is to embed consideration of biodiversity as an integral part of policy and decision making throughout the public sector, which should be seeking to make a significant contribution to the achievement of the commitments made by government in its 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP).

Development plans and planning decisions have the potential to affect biodiversity outside, as well as inside relevant designated areas. Planning authorities can work collaboratively with other partners, including Local Nature Partnerships, to develop and deliver a strategic approach to protecting and improving the natural environment based on local priorities and evidence. Equally, they need to consider the opportunities that individual development proposals may provide to conserve and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity, and contribute to habitat connectivity in the wider area. In this context, local authorities are encouraged to consider:

  1. the latest government policies that are relevant, including commitments in the 25YEP

  2. the contents of existing up-to-date plans and strategies for biodiversity and nature recovery

  3. potential effects of a development on the habitats or species of principle importance on the list

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