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Operational update: Coronavirus

Chief Executive Marian Spain on how Natural England is working to bring about Nature’s recovery.

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Natural England logo

How Natural England is working now that national coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions have been lifted

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, as from 19 July Natural England will be operating largely as normal, providing a full range of services and advice.

In our activities, both outdoors and indoors, we will be adhering to the government’s updated guidance, ensuring that, in progressing our full programme of work, that we assess all relevant risks (including COVID-19-related risks) and that we take all appropriate measures to address these risks.

We will continue to check in with our partners and customers on their needs and on their comfort in engaging with us in normal business – whether field visits or meetings. As we have been through the pandemic, we will continue to be happy to adjust our ways of working to meet specific needs, for example through remote methods of communication where that is preferable.

The COVID-19 crisis has continued to show us that a thriving and accessible natural environment is vital to the nation. We continue therefore to progress the government’s key policy ambitions for the environment, such as the 25 Year Environment Plan, the commitment to move towards net zero and the role of nature in mental and physical health, as well as ensuring that environmental law is maintained through our regulatory activities.

All Natural England-managed National Nature Reserves (NNRs) welcome visitors to connect with nature and enjoy our awe-inspiring wildlife, habitats and landscapes, but do check with your local site before you visit in case of any local car park closures or other restrictions. You can find more details on the NNR pages.

We have employed additional wardens in some reserves for the summer to ensure they are safe and welcoming places to visit. When visiting our reserves or other outdoor spaces please follow the Countryside Code to enable all to enjoy, value and respect the natural environment.

Our levels of COVID-19-related absence are currently low – should this change in such a way as to impact key services for customers, we will of course advise on any short-term implications.

Our offices are now largely open, but in common with many other organisations not all of our staff will be returning immediately. There will remain some restrictions on capacity for staff, visitors and meetings for the foreseeable future. We also expect that most of staff will adopt more flexible working patterns in the future, mixing field work, office attendance and home working over the working week. Do therefore please check on their whereabouts if there is a particular person you would like to contact, by post or in person and if possible, use electronic communications which can reach them whatever their whereabouts.

At this time, we would like to thank all our partners and customers for their support over the past year and more. Together, we have delivered a lot of good work to benefit the natural environment. Over the coming months, I am pleased to say that we expect to bring forward a set of new and exciting projects which will further assist in reversing the decline of nature and in helping people to enjoy the countryside with all it has to offer.

Moving forward

We remain committed to our mission to build partnerships for nature’s recovery, which the nation will need more than ever. We continue to work in partnership, even if in different ways, safely and enthusiastically.

Marian Spain, Chief Executive

Published 20 March 2020
Last updated 21 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Article has been updated.

  2. Article has been updated.

  3. Article has been updated.

  4. This information has been updated.

  5. Removed information on 3-tier system, which has been superseded.

  6. This information has been updated.

  7. This information has been updated.

  8. Updated with how Natural England is carrying its work during the coronavirus.

  9. Update on the number of Natural England car parks that remain closed, and a warning not to take BBQs or make campfires.

  10. Update on access arrangements

  11. Update to status of car parks for Fenn's Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR.

  12. Additional details added on accessing open spaces.

  13. Updated text added 15/05/20

  14. Update added 12/05/20 following Prime Minister's announcement of 10/05/20

  15. We have added links to the advice on farm visits available on the RPA and Forestry Commission websites.

  16. New contact details for Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers.

  17. Operational update on farm visits, environmental NGOs, and planning and licensing sections.

  18. Operational update.

  19. We have added the latest operational updates.

  20. First published.