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.

Applies to England


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, such as roads, buildings or flood defences
  • make decisions about procurement
  • implement economic, environmental and social programmes

Read A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment which sets out our goals for improving the environment and conserving biodiversity.

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:

Published 13 October 2014
Last updated 8 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added links to 'A green future: our 25 year plan to improve the environment' and 'Habitats and species of principal importance in England'.

  2. First published.