Local (or County) Wildlife Sites (LWS) are owned and managed for wildlife by individuals and organisations, and cover 5.6% of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Ranging from ancient woodlands to churchyards and road verges, these sites are identified and selected locally using scientifically-determined criteria and surveys [following Defra’s guidance]. Though they are a vital component of our Living Landscape, offering habitat and refuge for a huge range of flora and fauna, their LWS status offers no legal protection and they are under constant threat from development. What little protection they do have is given to them by their inclusion in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) document, which is used to guide planning applications for building housing, roads or industry across the country.
In spring 2018 the government proposed removing all reference to Local Wildlife Sites from the NPPF, stripping away the little protection these sites have. The Wildlife Trusts believed this move could be catastrophic for these vital places, and rallied their supporters to help with a campaign to get them reinstated. Over 25,000 people signed our eAction.
The good news is that, thanks to you, as of July 2018 Local Wildlife Sites have been reinstated in the new NPPF document - a step in the right direction. We are very grateful for everyone's support of this campaign.
Unfortunately, the wording doesn’t go quite as far as we would like, but The Wildlife Trusts are committed to working with the government to improve this, and ensure that the guidance that accompanies the National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear to everyone how Local Wildlife Sites should be safeguarded.
More government consultation
Though the story for Local Wildlife Sites is a good one so far, the Wildlife Trusts still need your help exerting pressure on government to improve the outlook for nature.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Prime Minister Theresa May have promised a “world-leading” watchdog that will deliver a “green Brexit”. But their current proposals are far too weak and will mean our environment is less protected in the future unless significant changes are made to the proposals.
We are campaigning for stronger protection for nature in law after Brexit takes place in under a year, and we need your help. You can find out more and sign our eAction here. The government consultation on this ends on 2 August.