Natural England


Natural England
Natural England
Naturalenglandlogo.png
Agency overview
Formed 1 October 2006
Jurisdiction England
Headquarters Sheffield, England
Employees 2,636 (2010)[1]
Annual budget £282 million (2010)[1]
Agency executives Mr Poul Christensen, Chair
Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive [2]
Parent agency Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Website
www.naturalengland.org.uk

Natural England is the non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.

Natural England focuses its activities and resources on four strategic outcomes:

  • a healthy natural environment
  • enjoyment of the natural environment
  • sustainable use of the natural environment
  • a secure environmental future

Contents

Roles and responsibilities

As an non-departmental public body (NDPB), Natural England is independent of government. However, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has the legal power to issue guidance to Natural England on various matters,[3] a constraint that was not placed on its predecessor NDPBs.

Its powers include awarding grants, designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, managing certain National Nature Reserves, overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights, and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example Environmental Stewardship, Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and Access to Nature.

It is responsible for the delivery of some of Defra's Public Service Agreements (e.g. reversing the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 and improving public access to the countryside).

Natural England takes its Finance, Human Resources and Estates services from the Defra Shared Services organisation.[4] Information technology services are outsourced to IBM.[5]

History

Natural England was established on 1 October 2006 by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006,[3] which implemented the recommendations of a rural review by Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby. It was formed by the amalgamation of three founder bodies:

It received the powers of the founder bodies, including awarding grants, designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, managing certain National Nature Reserves, overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights, and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example Environmental Stewardship, Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and Access to Nature.

Activities

State of the natural environment

In May 2008, Natural England published a report, "State of the Natural Environment", which brought together statistics and facts about England's environment. The report was intended to be used by environmental organisations as a benchmark and source for policy development. It complements reports produced by other organisations:

Green exercise

Natural England is funding eight demonstration green exercise projects through local regional partnerships. The main aim is to increase levels of physical activity and people's connections to their local green spaces.

Green infrastructure

Natural England is promoting the concept of Green Infrastructure as a way to deliver a wide range of benefits for people and the natural environment together. It believes that Green Infrastructure should be delivered via the spatial planning system, as an integral part of new development everywhere. They[who?] say it should also form a key part of proposals to regenerate existing urban areas.

Natural England is working with partners in the Growth Areas, Growth Points and proposed Eco-towns to prepare and implement Green Infrastructure strategies and demonstrate good practice on the ground.

Controversy

Natural England was challenged in High Court in 2006 by Peter Boggis, a pensioner who protected his house from erosion. Natural England claimed that as the site of Boggis's house was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the protection went against the scientific community's interests. Natural England lost the case in 2009, when Mr. Justice Blair, the brother of the former Prime Minister, ruled that Mr. Boggis' "human predicament" was more important than the site's SSSI status. Natural England won the subsequent appeal in October 2009.[6]

See also

Sir Martin Doughty - first Chair of Natural England 2006-2009

References

External links



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