Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Biodiversity duty guidance published today
Guidance on the biodiversity duty under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC), has been published today by Defra.
The aim of the biodiversity duty is to raise the profile of biodiversity in England and Wales, eventually to a point where biodiversity issues become second nature to everyone making decisions in the public sector.
All public authorities are affected, including over 900 public bodies local authorities, fire, police and health bodies, museums and transport authorities.
Defra has worked with a wide range of partners, including Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, the Local Government Association, Wildlife and Countryside Link and others on developing guidance to support public authorities in implementing this duty.
In recognition of the key role local authorities play with regard to conserving and enhancing biodiversity, there are two sets of guidance:
* specific guidance aimed at the needs and requirements of local authorities; and
* more generic guidance aimed at all public authorities affected. Workshops with local authorities, regional bodies and other public bodies were held in November 2006 to engage those affected and to inform the development of the guidance.
The guidance is intended to assist public authorities to implement the biodiversity duty. It provides advice on different activities and functions of public sector organisations and includes a number of case studies which illustrate what can be done to have regard to biodiversity. The guidance is available on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/biodiversity/index.htm
Notes to editors
1. The passing of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act was a significant step. Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act came into effect on 1 October 2006.
2. Section 40 requires that '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.
3. Copies of the Act can be downloaded from the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/ruraldelivery/bill/default.htm
Section 40 of the Act replaces and extends a duty, from Section 74 of the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act 2000, on Ministers and Government which already requires them to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.
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