To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the extent of damage to Local Wildlife Sites by prospective developers, prior to applications for planning permission being submitted.
1 April 2021
My department has not undertaken such an assessment. National planning policy expects local plans to identify and map Local Wildlife Sites and to include policies that not only secure their protection from harm or loss but also help to enhance them and their connection to wider ecological networks.
Defra requires local authorities to report annually on the proportion of Local Wildlife Sites where positive conservation management has been or is being implemented. In 2018/19, 47% of Local Wildlife Sites across England were in positive conservation management.
The Environment Bill contains important new measures for reversing nature’s decline. These include strengthening the existing biodiversity duty, to require all public authorities to take action to conserve and enhance biodiversity. Local Authorities will also be required to produce 5-yearly Biodiversity Reports setting out the action they have taken and its impact as part of this duty.
Additionally, the Environment Bill introduces a new biodiversity net gain requirement for development. This includes measures that allow planning authorities to recognise any habitat degradation since January 2020 and to take the earlier habitat state as the baseline for the purposes of biodiversity net gain.