Public and Local Authorities have a statutory obligation to conserve and enhance biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) 2006. This act extended the biodiversity duty set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act to public bodies and statutory undertakers to ensure due regard to the conservation of biodiversity.

Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity” Section 40, NERC Act, 2006

The Duty applies to all local authorities, parish and town councils, police, fire and health authorities, and utility companies. DEFRA has produced two publications on implementing the Duty. The first is for Local Authorities, and second for other public bodies.

Local Authorities

To fulfill the Biodiversity Duty, Local Authorities should ensure that there is no net loss of biodiversity on a site, always aim to enhance biodiversity, ensure no loss in habitat connectivity and implement policies to ensure that biodiversity is at the heart of the organisation and all of its operations.

Durham Biodiversity Partnership has produced specific guidance notes for a number of different local authority services. These are available to download below.

An Introduction to the NERC Biodiversity Duty
Guidance note – Education, Advice and Awareness
Guidance note – Management of Land and Buildings
Guidance note – Policy, Strategy and Procurement
Guidance note – Planning, Regeneration and Economy

Other useful publications:

Local Authorities and Biodiversity – Your Statutory Obligations (The Wildlife Trusts)
Guidance for Local Authorities on Implementing the Biodiversity Duty (DEFRA)
Guidance for Public Authorities on Implementing the Biodiversity Duty (DEFRA)