Some protection reinstated for at-risk Local Wildlife Sites

© Peter Emery

Thanks to a Wildlife Trust campaign, Local Wildlife Sites have been reinstated in the National Planning Policy Framework as sites on which development should be restricted.

Yesterday the Government released the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England following a recent consultation.  Thanks to a Wildlife Trust campaign in response to that consultation, Local Wildlife Sites have been reinstated as sites on which development should be restricted, having been omitted from the draft consultation, published in April.

25,000 people supported our campaign, which called for:

  • The NPPF to restrict development on Local Wildlife Sites on account of their county importance for nature conservation.
  • Local Wildlife Sites to be identified and mapped as part of a network of wildlife-rich habitats.
  • A requirement for local councils to protect Local Wildlife Sites from harm.

In Hampshire and on the Island Local Wildlife Sites are known as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and these sites are crucially important for wildlife in their own right, but also as part of a desperately needed ecological network.

A Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust spokesperson said:

‘We were very concerned that these sites had been dropped from the draft Framework but they are now listed again thanks to The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign.

There were representations from MPs from both sides of the House, a petition of 25,000, and Ministers met with our national colleagues who also had numerous meetings and calls with civil servants.

The Wildlife Trusts will now work with government on the guidance that accompanies the Framework, which is being reviewed in the autumn, to ensure that it is clear to everyone how Local Wildlife Sites should be safeguarded through planning policy. Thank you for your support for the campaign, we really made a difference.’

We are thrilled that Local Wildlife Sites have been reinstated in the NPPF. The all-important new wording says that local councils will need to identify, map and safeguard components of the local ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity.

However, the new wording doesn’t go quite as far as we would like – we would have preferred an explicit recommendation against development of these sites. The Wildlife Trusts will work with the government to ensure that the guidance that accompanies the National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear to everyone how Local Wildlife Sites should be safeguarded.