Planning and development – guidance

Biodiversity duty: public authority duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity

As a public authority, understand what the biodiversity duty is and how to meet it when carrying out all your activities.

Overview

As a public authority in England you have a duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity as part of your policy or decision making. Conserving biodiversity can include restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.

A public authority can be a:

  • local authority including a unitary, county, district, community, parish or town council
  • government department or one of their executive agencies
  • non-departmental government body
  • NHS Trust
  • utility company
  • body carrying out functions of a public character under a statutory power

See a detailed list of public authorities.

Your duty to have regard for conserving biodiversity

You should be able to show your duty to have regard for conserving biodiversity if you have identified ways to integrate biodiversity when you:

  • develop policies and strategies and put them into practice
  • manage the planning system
  • manage:
    • your land and buildings
    • woodlands and nature reserves
    • gardens, parks and public open space
    • community amenities eg sports grounds and cemeteries
    • waste and pollution
    • energy and water
    • wood and plant products
  • develop infrastructure ie roads, buildings or flood defences
  • make decisions about procurement
  • implement economic, environmental and social programmes

See Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services as an example of evidence of how the biodiversity duty is being met.

Protected sites and species

Some sites and species are protected by:

  • national law
  • international law
  • government policy

If you are involved in decisions on planning and development, you should refer to guidance on: