Primary Legislation: England

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Find out more >> The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

The UK will be one of the first countries to plan for all of its marine area. A new streamlined licensing regime will reduce the number of licences required for a marine project, and all licensing decisions will be made in accordance with the marine plan.

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 creates a new Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in England. It will be the new manager and regulator of England's marine environment and will deliver the key actions set out by the Act.

The Act also:

  • creates a network of Marine Conservation Zones to protect some of the UK's most important marine species and habitats
  • gives Natural Engalnd the ability to create a walking route around the coast of England

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The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act (2006)

Find out more >> The NERC Act 

What does the NERC ‘Duty’ mean for Public Bodies?

Section 40(1) imposes a duty to conserve biodiversity:

“Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.”

Section 40(3) of the Act explains that:

“Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat”.

The duty applies to all local authorities and extends beyond just conserving what is already there to carrying out, supporting and requiring actions that may also restore or enhance biodiversity.

Defra has published Guidance on Implementing the Biodiversity Duty for local authorities in England and Wales

List of Species and Habitats of Principal Importance in England

Section 41 (S41) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC Act 2006) requires the Secretary of State to publish a list of habitats and species that are of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England. The list (including 56 habitats and 943 species) has been drawn up in consultation with Natural England and draws upon the UK BAP List of Priority Species and Habitats.

The S41 list should be used to guide decision-makers such as local and regional authorities when implementing their duty: to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercise of their normal functions – as required under Section 40 of the NERC Act 2006.

Find out more >> Species and Habitats of Principal Importance in England 

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Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000

Find out more >> Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 covers four main areas of interest:

  • Access to Open Country
  • Public Rights of Way (PROW)
  • Nature Conservation
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

The main Nature Conservation provisions are as follows:

The importance of biodiversity conservation is given a statutory basis, requiring government departments to have regard for biodiversity in carrying out its functions, and to take positive steps to further the conservation of listed species and habitats.

The protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), already established in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, is strengthened giving greater power to Natural England to enter into management agreements, to refuse consent for damaging operations, and to take action where damage is being caused through neglect or inappropriate management.

Local Authorities have a statutory duty to further the conservation and enhancement of SSSI both in carrying out their operations, and in exercising their decision making functions.

The legal protection for threatened species is strengthened and it brings up to date the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This assists in bringing offenders to justice, and provides for stronger penalties.

Many of its provisions have been incorporated as amendments into the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and some provisions have now been superseded by later legislation such as The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006).

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Protection of Badgers Act 1992

Find out more >>  The Protection of Badgers Act 1992

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 protects badgers and their setts. Offences under the act include killing, injuring or taking a badger, or to damage or interfere with a sett unless a licence is obtained from the relevant statutory authority.

Obtaining a Licence
In common with other legislation, it is possible to carryout actions that would otherwise be illegal under a licence.  The licensing authority is Natural England
 
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Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

Find out more >>  Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is important in providing detail on a range of protection and offences relating to wild birds, other animals, and plants. The level of protection depends on which Schedule of the Act the species is listed on. Licences are available for specific purposes to permit actions that would otherwise constitute an offence in relation to species. The legislation does not currently allow licences to be granted to permit such actions for the purpose of development.

Note that the effect of this Act is markedly different in Scotland than in England and Wales. In Scotland, its role in relation to Sites of Special Scientific Interest has been replaced by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.

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National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 provided the framework for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Section 21 also provides local authorities with the powers to declare Local Nature Reserves.