The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act came into force on 1st Oct 2006. Section 40 of the Act requires all public bodies to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions. This is referred to as the ‘Biodiversity duty’
The aim of the biodiversity duty is ensure that the conservation of biodiversity becomes properly embedded in all relevant policies and decisions made by public authorities.
Biodiversity 2020 sets out a strategy
It identifies the ways to achieve this as:
The National Planning Policy Framework (2012) is a key document which local authorities have to take into account when preparing plans and taking decisions on planning applications.
Section 11 contains several policies targeted at enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity.
“Local planning authorities should: set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure...”
The Lawton Report, Making Space for Nature (2010) summarised what needs to be done to make our ecological networks more resilient:
The 25 Year Environment Plan (2018) sets out to leave our environment in a better state than we found it and to pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future.
A key action point is establishing a Nature Recovery Network to protect and restore wildlife,as well as providing greater public enjoyment of the countryside and other improvements.
Information on national policies and guidance
NEW: Natural England published guidance in March 2020 on the design of nature networks and evidence for their implementation. Priority actions :include
(a) improve core wildlife sites
(b) increase the size of core sites
(c) increase the number of core sites
(d) improve ‘permeability’ of surrounding landscape for movement of wildlife
(e) create corridors of connecting habitat.