Biodiversity duties of Local and Public Authorities

This page provides links to detailed guides on the biodiversity duties of Local and Public Authorities. These are an essential resource for local conservationists and wildlife campaigners, who need to know what these organisations could and should be doing and, in particular, what they are legally obliged to do.

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The legal framework

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 commonly referred to as the ‘Biodiversity duty’

This duty extends to all public bodies the biodiversity duty of section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), which placed a duty on Government and Ministers.

The aim of the duty was to embed biodiversity considerations into all the relevant policies and decisions of the bodies concerned.

Who does it apply to?

The duty applies to over 900 public authorities, including local authorities, fire, police, health bodies, museums and transport authorities.

The duty applies to a wide range of organisations including:

  • Local authorities – unitary, county, district, metropolitan, and community, parish and town councils
  • Central Government departments
  • Departmental executive agencies
  • Non-Ministerial government departments
  • Non-departmental public bodies
  • NHS Trusts
  • Greater London Authority
  • Utilities – including water and energy suppliers
  • All other bodies carrying out functions of a public character under a statutory power. This includes: Police authorities; Fire Service; Prison Service; museums; schools and higher educational institutions.

Guides

Because of the importance and complexity of the subject, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has produced detailed guides to the  biodiversity duties two broad groups of bodies.

That for Local Authorities (in our case the Greater London Authority and London Borough of Bexley) can be downloaded here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69287/pb12584-la-guid-english-070510.pdf

whilst the guide for Public Authorities (such as the NHS, water suppliers such as Thames Water and energy companies – many of which own and manage significant amounts of land) can be downloaded here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69311/pb12585-pa-guid-english-070516.pdf

Bexley Council is legally required to 'take biodiversity into account' in developing policies and making decisions - but of course in the process of doing so, it can decide it's less important than money and more concrete .... This is why Bexley natural Environewmnt Forum has spent a lot of time trying to strengthen the commitment to protect biodiversity in strategic documents such as the Local Development Framework.

Bexley Council is legally required to ‘take biodiversity into account’ in developing policies and making decisions – but of course in the process of doing so, it can decide it’s less important than money and yet more concrete …. This is why Bexley Natural Environment Forum has spent a lot of time trying to strengthen commitments to protect and enhance biodiversity, and to remove or amend damaging proposals  in strategic long-term policy documents such as the Local Development Framework.

Download the PDF file .

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