House of Lords examines the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act: have your say

Contribute to our response to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act.

Red squirrel

The House of Lords has appointed a Select Committee to examine the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC Act).

The Committee will be focused on “post-legislative scrutiny” – a review of whether the provisions of the Act have had sufficient time to embed and develop, and how well they are working.

Amongst other provisions, The NERC Act created Natural England, extended the duty to conserve biodiversity to public bodies in England, and placed a requirement for the Secretary of State to publish lists of priority species and habitats.

We will be responding to the Committee’s call for evidence, which has identified eleven questions of interest. The following questions are of particular interest to the BES:

  • How well has Natural England fulfilled the mandate that it currently has? How well do its wide-ranging functions fit together, and does it have the appropriate powers and resources to perform these functions?
  • Are any changes to the remit and responsibilities of Natural England required, either as a result of Brexit or of other significant developments in the period since 2006?
  • Is the duty to ‘have regard’ to biodiversity, which is contained within the Act, well understood by those bodies to whom it applies? Is any further work required to raise awareness of the duty?
  • What has been the practical impact of the 2006 duty? Is any modification to the duty required as a result of developments in our understanding of the value of ecosystems and biodiversity since 2006?
  • How does the English duty to ‘have regard’ to biodiversity compare to the Scottish duty to ‘further’ biodiversity and the enhanced biodiversity duty introduced in Wales in 2016?
  • Will the structures established by the Act be sufficient to ensure appropriate protection for nature and environmental standards following Brexit? Are any modifications or changes to the structures established by the Act required to address the implications of Brexit?
  • Are there any further parts of the Act which are currently in force that need to be re-considered as a result of developments since 2006?

We welcome contributions from all members to this inquiry response. Please contact Camilla Morrison-Bell by 11 August 2017 with any responses to the above questions, or the overarching focus of the inquiry.