There are various UK laws and acts of parliament that regulate
business impact on biodiversity. The UK Government's commitment
to the conservation of biodiversity ensures the increasing relevance
of the subject to business. The legal systems in England and Wales
follow broadly the same principles but in Scotland and Northern
Ireland there is a difference in detail. Devolution is causing the
system to diverge further.
The primary UK legislation can be viewed below:
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (amended 1991)
The Planning and Policy Guidelines
Operating Financial Review
Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations
Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act
for England and Wales 2000
Protection of Badgers Act 1992
Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996
Hare Preservation Act 1892
Ground Game Act 1880
Conservation of Seals Act 1970
The Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulation
Other British legislation
and Countryside Act 1981 (amended 1991)
Refers to the treatment and management of protected species listed
as Schedule 1 (birds), 5 (mammals, reptiles, fish and invertebrates)
and 8 (plants). The most relevant legislation is under Section 9.
It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure, or take a scheduled
species that is living wild at the time; to possess a scheduled
species; to damage, destroy or obstruct access to the place of refuge
used by the protected species. The 1981 Act can be obtained from
Planning and Policy Guidelines (October 1994, Nature Conservation,
DoE, PPG9) make the presence of a protected species a material
consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development
proposal, which if carried out, would be likely to result in harm
to the species or its habitat.
and Financial Review (OFR) is the UK implementation of the EU
Accounts Modernisation Directive. The OFR is a statement that will
have to be included in the reports and accounts of companies based
on a review of the company’s performance, factors that affect
it, environmental, social and economic and factors that are going
to affect the company’s performance. The OFR regulations are
due to come into effect from January 2005 for more information and
draft guidelines visit: www.dti.gov.uk/cld/financialreview
Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994
Enact the European Union's (EU) Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) in
the UK. The Habitats Directive was designed to contribute to the
maintenance of biodiversity within the European member states by
the conservation of sites containing habitats and species selected
as being of EC importance. These sites will make up the Natura 2000
network. Member states are required to take measures to maintain
or restore these natural and semi-natural habitats and wild species
at a favourable conservation status. The Conservation (Natural Habitats,
etc.) Regulations impose restrictions on planning permissions likely
to affect Special Protection Areas or Special Areas of Conservation.
The Regulations also require the effects of existing authorisations
and consents to be reviewed.
Countryside and Rights Of Way Act for England and Wales 2000
Amends the law relating to nature conservation and protection of
wildlife, and makes a number of changes to the provisions of the
Wildlife and Countryside Act to afford greater protection to SSSIs.
It also makes new provision for public access to the countryside
- the right to roam - in England and Wales. The CROW Act places
a statutory duty on Government Departments and the National Assembly
of Wales to have regard to biodiversity conservation and to promote
conservation action by others. Section 74 of the Act requires the
preparation and maintenance of lists of priority species and habitats.
It also places a statutory duty on public bodies to conserve SSSIs
and enhance their value, and provides English Nature and Countryside
Council for Wales with the power to impose Management Schemes on
owners of SSSIs. The CROW Act also strengthens the legal protection
for threatened species with regard to killing, injuring, disturbing
or destroying places used for shelter and protection.
Protection of Badgers Act 1992
Makes it illegal to wilfully kill, injure, take, cruelly treat,
sell, possess or mark a badger. It also makes interference with
badger setts illegal, including damaging, destroying or disturbing
a sett, intending to do any of these, or being reckless to the consequences
of actions which may result in interference. This includes any form
of building works.
Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996
Protects wild mammals from specific listed acts of wilful cruelty,
such as beating, stabbing, burning or drowning. There is currently
(from March 2001) an exception for lawful shooting, hunting, coursing
or pest control activity, and a further exception for the use of
dogs. In Scotland, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill
is currently under consideration by the Scottish Executive, and
would, if enacted, demand a license to use a dog to stalk or flush
mammals for control, or to protect livestock, poultry or game-birds.
The Hare Preservation
Forbids the sale of brown and mountain hares during their normal
breeding season, March to July inclusive.
Game Act 1880
Gives tenant farmers the right to kill brown and mountain hares
on their land at any time of the year to protect crops.
of Seals Act 1970
Provides for a close season during which it is an offence to take
or kill any seal except under licence in particular circumstances.
The close season for grey seals is 1 September to 31 December inclusive
and for common seals, 1 June to 31 August inclusive, coinciding
with the pupping season. The act provides an exception which makes
it lawful to kill a seal to prevent it from causing damage to a
fishing net or tackle, or to any fish in the net, providing the
seal is in the vicinity of the net or tackle at the time.
The Town and
Country Planning (Trees) Regulation 1999
Provisions for protecting any tree, group of trees or woodland to
conserve their amenity value by allowing the local planning authority
to place a Tree Preservation Order on them.
Several species must be controlled under the Agricultural
Act 1947, the Agricultural Act (Scotland) (1948), the Forestry Act
1967 and the Rabies (Control) Order 1974. These Acts can be obtained
Act (England and Wales) 1991 and The
Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 specify seasons and methods for killing
deer. In Northern Ireland wildlife is principally
protected by the Wildlife
(NI) Order 1985. The
Environment (NI) order 2003 provides protection for Areas of
Scientific Interest ASSI's (equivalent to SSSI's) . Also in Northern
Ireland trees are protected under the Planning
(Trees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 and the Planning
(northern Ireland) Order 1991.
For a complete list of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and
Wales’ land and plant protection legislation click here.
NET REGs lists current and future environmental legislation of importance
Photo Credit: Peter Wakely/ English Nature