Changes to the measurement (metric) used to report on the condition of SSSIs in England

Closed 18 Jan 2021

Opened 7 Dec 2020

Feedback updated 28 Jun 2021

We asked

Natural England consulted with national and local stakeholders with an interest in the SSSI official statistics, on the proposed change to the measurement used in the reporting of SSSI condition in England from a unit or area based assessment to a whole feature based monitoring approach, between 7 December 2020 and 18 January 2021.

You said

A total of 57 responses were received. 17 respondents were in favour of the proposed change, 9 respondents were not in favour of the proposed change, 9 respondents were neutral, 14 respondents were in favour of the change to feature based monitoring but not in favour of the Least Favourable Condition option. 3 respondents were in favour of the Least Favourable approach option but not in favour of the change to feature based monitoring. 5 respondents did not express a preference.

Following consideration of the responses, Natural England acknowledged that there was a need to organise further discussions to provide opportunities for stakeholders to discuss their specific concerns, agree solutions and ways of working in partnership, to ensure a smooth transition to feature-based monitoring.

We did

Natural England organised further discussions with stakeholders from the Major Land Owners Group on 6 May 2021 and 13 May 2021, with representatives from the Water Industry and Interest Groups. The discussions were punctuated by questions from both groups of stakeholders and answers were provided by Natural England staff.

We are organising discussions with other organisations and stakeholders to provide further opportunities to discuss specific concerns.

Two pilots will be undertaken at the Duddon Estuary SSSI and West Nidderdale, Barden and Blubberhouses Moors respectively in 2021, and another 2 pilots in 2022, to inform the procedures and methodologies that will be implemented in feature-based monitoring. These will look at:

  • how to ensure that land managers will still be able to understand whether the work they are doing is supporting the site condition,
  • how to work on large and complex sites,
  • how to best use new technologies to support condition assessment, and
  • how to use data from others and citizen science.

Natural England will keep in regular contact with those who have provided contact details about how the pilots are progressing and how we will be addressing the concerns raised.

The consultation report will be published in the Autumn.

Overview

Natural England is seeking views on the proposed change to the measurement used in the reporting of SSSI condition in England. The changes will be a move from a unit or area based assessment to one which measures the condition of a notified feature across the whole of the SSSI.

The consultation document sets out the reasons behind this proposed change and the implications of the change on current baseline information. The move to whole feature assessment and reporting will provide evidence on how our Protected Sites function within landscapes or ecological networks.

The link to the official statistic for SSSI condition can be found below together with the consultation report on the changes to the measurement used to report on the condition of SSSIs in England.

This change will bring us in line with the method used to monitor and report SSSI condition in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which will support people and organisations who are using this information across the UK.

 

 

 

Why we are consulting

This online consultation poses questions to consider regarding the implications of this proposed change to the way groups or individuals use the information. Natural England would also like views about any mitigation that we could put in place to minimise the impacts of the proposed change.

Our target audiences are groups or individuals who use the official statistic for any purpose.  Please read the consultation report prior to answering the questions.

Audiences

  • Landowners and their representative bodies

Interests

  • Biodiversity