Protected Sites Strategies

A new power under the Environment Act 2021 to ‘…prepare and publish a strategy for a) improving the conservation and management of a protected site, and b) managing the impact of plans, projects or other activities…on the conservation and management of the protected site’.

What are Protected Sites, how and why are Local Authorities Involved. 

Protected Sites are areas within our land and sea that have been identified as having our ‘best’ nature and wildlife within them.  

There are many protections for nature. In the Environment Act a “protected site” means— 

(a) a European site, - Ramsar Sites (wetlands of international importance); SPAs-Special Protection Areas and SACs - Special Areas of Conservation 

Even with these protections we are one of the most ‘nature depleted’ countries in the world, nature is vital for our wellbeing, so we need to support it to flourish again. Protecting and looking after what we have in these areas is vital for our biodiversity and because they support wider nature recovery across our land and sea. 

These protected sites also need our help as many are in unfavourable condition and are experiencing added pressures from outside their site boundaries including climate change, pollution, coastal squeeze to name a few. The Environment Act recognises the need to help out these precious areas and Protected Site Strategies- PSS is the mechanism to do this.

Natural England has the power to prepare, produce and report on these strategies and recognises local authorities are crucial to the design and delivery of PSS. 

Protected sites and areas: how to review planning applications 

"The Impact Risk Zones (IRZs) are a GIS tool developed by Natural England to make a rapid initial assessment of the potential risks posed by development proposals to: SSSIs, SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites." i.e. the protected sites covered in the definition of a PSS. 

Elsewhere on the PAS website: 

How does BNG work for developments on sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs)? find in decision making section

Can off-site BNG be used to enhance SSSIs? find in additionality, stacking & natural capital section

What is PAS here to do? 

We are speaking to local authorities, from Parish, District, County, Unitary, Combined and National Park to find out what PSS could mean for you to ensure this new tool has the best chance for the best outcomes for nature. Watch the introductory video to find out more.