Press release

Secretary of State’s power to confirm local nature reserve byelaws to be devolved to local authorities

Powers to confirm local nature reserve byelaws will shortly be devolved from the Secretary of State for the Environment to English local authorities.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This change will mean that local authorities will be able to make, confirm and revoke byelaws without approval from the Secretary of State. The new procedures will ensure that thorough consultation with the local community and interested parties will be carried out before any decisions are made.


Local nature reserves are declared by local authorities under section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Under section 21, local authorities may make byelaws for the protection of nature reserves. These are currently confirmed by the Secretary of State before they come into force.

Ministers consider that these powers are best exercised by local authorities in consultation with their local communities and interested parties rather than by central government.

Subject to legislative timetable, local authorities will be able to use these new powers early next year.

The changes will apply to councils in England only.

Published 17 September 2010