- Natural England
Natural England Agency overview Formed 1 October 2006 Jurisdiction England Headquarters Sheffield, England Employees 2,636 (2010) Annual budget £282 million (2010) Agency executives Mr Poul Christensen, Chair
Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive 
Parent agency Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Website www.naturalengland.org.uk
Natural England is the non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.
Natural England focuses its activities and resources on four strategic outcomes:
- a healthy natural environment
- enjoyment of the natural environment
- sustainable use of the natural environment
- a secure environmental future
Roles and responsibilities
As an non-departmental public body (NDPB), Natural England is independent of government. However, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has the legal power to issue guidance to Natural England on various matters, a constraint that was not placed on its predecessor NDPBs.
Its powers include awarding grants, designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, managing certain National Nature Reserves, overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights, and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example Environmental Stewardship, Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and Access to Nature.
It is responsible for the delivery of some of Defra's Public Service Agreements (e.g. reversing the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 and improving public access to the countryside).
Natural England was established on 1 October 2006 by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, which implemented the recommendations of a rural review by Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby. It was formed by the amalgamation of three founder bodies:
- Countryside Agency, the landscape, access and recreation elements
- English Nature
- Rural Development Service, the environmental land management functions of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
It received the powers of the founder bodies, including awarding grants, designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, managing certain National Nature Reserves, overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights, and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example Environmental Stewardship, Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and Access to Nature.
State of the natural environment
In May 2008, Natural England published a report, "State of the Natural Environment", which brought together statistics and facts about England's environment. The report was intended to be used by environmental organisations as a benchmark and source for policy development. It complements reports produced by other organisations:
- Environmental facts and figures Environment Agency
- Heritage counts English Heritage
- State of the UK's birds RSPB
- State of Britain's butterflies Butterfly Conservation
Natural England is funding eight demonstration green exercise projects through local regional partnerships. The main aim is to increase levels of physical activity and people's connections to their local green spaces.
Natural England is promoting the concept of Green Infrastructure as a way to deliver a wide range of benefits for people and the natural environment together. It believes that Green Infrastructure should be delivered via the spatial planning system, as an integral part of new development everywhere. They[who?] say it should also form a key part of proposals to regenerate existing urban areas.
Natural England is working with partners in the Growth Areas, Growth Points and proposed Eco-towns to prepare and implement Green Infrastructure strategies and demonstrate good practice on the ground.
Natural England was challenged in High Court in 2006 by Peter Boggis, a pensioner who protected his house from erosion. Natural England claimed that as the site of Boggis's house was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the protection went against the scientific community's interests. Natural England lost the case in 2009, when Mr. Justice Blair, the brother of the former Prime Minister, ruled that Mr. Boggis' "human predicament" was more important than the site's SSSI status. Natural England won the subsequent appeal in October 2009.
Sir Martin Doughty - first Chair of Natural England 2006-2009
- ^ a b Annual Report and Accounts 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010
- ^ Natural England Board Natural England
- ^ a b Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
- ^ Public Update on implementation of Lord Haskins’ Rural Delivery Review - Recommendations 1-9
- ^ Natural England chooses IBM as its transformation partner
- ^ High Court judgment confirms conservation status of Easton Bavents cliffs
- Natural England official website
- Walking for Health, aka Walking the way to Health
- Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
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