New five-step guide helps local authorities meet their duty to biodiversity

A new set of guidelines issued by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) today (9 October) is set to help local authorities take the first five steps towards meeting their duty to enhance the conservation of local biodiversity.

Since 2004, the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act required all public bodies including local authorities to take steps towards enhancing the conservation of biodiversity.  SWT, the only conservation charity in Scotland dedicated to protecting all of Scotland’s wildlife, is working with local authorities to help them meet these duties.

The five key biodiversity actions identified for planners sees SWT encourage local authorities to designate and protect local nature conservation sites, establish green networks, support local centres for recording wildlife, and promote education and public understanding of biodiversity.  SWT is also encouraging councils to take a firmer line on planning developments by protecting habitats and species identified in local biodiversity action plans from inappropriate developments. 

SWT’s Dr. Maggie Keegan said:

“Our new guidelines aim to provide a check-list of straight-forward actions which planners can take to ensure that their local authority is meeting their duty to conserve biodiversity. 

“SWT was delighted when the biodiversity duty was included in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 but its implementation still leaves a lot to be desired.  Some planners appear unaware of the duty and may not have seen guidance about what it means for them. Doing nothing is not good enough and is harmful to Scotland’s wildlife.  SWT has identified five biodiversity actions which are the minimum we would expect planners to do to meet the requirements of the legislation.

“By following our advice, planners can now be confident that they are going in the right direction for conserving Scotland’s wildlife and that they are meeting their professional duty to obey the law.

“Our guidelines come in advance of 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, and I hope they prove to be a useful tool as everyone begins to focus their mind on the issue of biodiversity next year.” 

This week 32 local authorities in Scotland will receive a copy of the SWT guidelines, titled ‘Guidance for planning authorities on implementing the Biodiversity Duty’ by Dr. Maggie Keegan. 
***ENDS***
NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The SWT publication ‘Guidance for planning authorities on implementing the Biodiversity Duty’, created by Dr.  Maggie Keegan, lists the following five biodiversity actions for planners:
 Protect Local Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species from inappropriate development
 Designate and protect Local Nature Conservation Sites
 Establish green networks
 Support local record centres
 Promote education and public understanding of biodiversity

2. SWT is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing more than 35,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment. SWT seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 reserves Scotland-wide.

3. The People’s Postcode Lottery is the lottery for charities in Scotland.  Launched in November 2007, PPL represents a unique fundraising concept where players play with their postcode to win cash prizes whilst supporting local Scottish charities.  40p from each ticket sold goes direct to charity in Scotland.  To date SWT have received over £772,023 from PPL which helps maintain the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s network of over 120 reserves across Scotland.

4. SWT receives financial assistance and support from Scottish Natural Heritage and the People’s Postcode Lottery.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Nicola McGovern, PR Officer, SWT
Tel:  0131 312 4742

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Preface

A new set of guidelines issued by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) today (9 October) is set to help local authorities take the first five steps towards meeting their duty …

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