We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We Asked

On 2 November 2017 Natural England notified additional land as part of the Crouch and Roach Estuaries Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), recognising the land’s importance for overwintering waterbirds and other interest features of the SSSI. It is proposed that the boundaries of the Crouch and Roach Estuaries (Mid Essex Coast Phase 3) Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site are also extended to include the same areas of land. Natural England is therefore running two consultations concurrently: 1) Seeking views on the extension of the SSSI - to inform our decision on whether to confirm or withdraw this notification. 2) Seeking views on the proposed extension of the SPA and Ramsar site – to form the basis of a report to the Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

You Said

Two letters of support were received from the Crouch and Roach Estuaries consultations, no objections were received to the notification.

We Did

Natural England confirmed extensions to Crouch and Roach Estuaries SSSI and classified Crouch and Roach Estuaries SPA and Ramsar site on 11 July 2018.

We Asked

Natural England consulted on a proposal to charge for Wildlife Licences on Defra’s behalf between December 2017 and February 2018. We asked your views on the proposal to introduce charges, the proposed price structure and the charge exemptions.

You Said

You gave us a diverse range of views. There was support for the proposal to charge for mitigation licences provided this results in improved service delivery and for the proposed exemptions from charging. There were a number of challenges to the proposal related to the principle and cost of survey licences. Other respondents questioned the principle of charging, the charge rate, the cost of certain licences and the impact on wildlife from unlicensed activity.

We Did

We have published a consultation response where we have outlined how we propose to address your concerns. These include: a commitment to improving the service performance for mitigation licences, alongside the implementation of charges; reducing proposed charges in some areas (particularly survey licences) to reflect projected efficiency savings; and additional charge exemptions for falconry licences. We will continue to consult with applicant groups on the proposal. We will be seeking parliamentary approval this summer for the charging scheme, to be introduced as a Statutory Instrument under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

We Asked

We asked your views on proposed changes for assessing wildfowling consents on protected sites. These included proposals:

 

  • to increase opportunities for wildfowling clubs to contribute to the assessment process;
  • the possibility of offering longer term agreements with review mechanisms;
  • to more closely align assessments with the bird numbers on site;
  • ways in which more of the positive management undertaken by wildfowling clubs could be included in agreements. 

You Said

A total of 613 responses were received to the consultation; 78 of these were from representatives of organisations and the rest were from individuals. 92% of respondents were wildfowlers.

Respondents strongly supported some proposals, such as annual liaison meetings and wildfowling visits. Some proposals, such as the use of site management plans, provoked a mixed response. Other proposals, such as the proposal to link longer term plans to bird abundance figures, had less support. Some concerns were raised around lack of trust between Natural England and wildfowling clubs.

 

We Did

 

We recognise that a wide range of views have been put forward and we wish to reassure all consultees that no pre-emptive action will be taken until we have fully explored these issues with stakeholders. We have noted the concerns raised and will reflect on which proposals were supported, and which were not. To take this discussion forward, we will invite key representatives to a workshop to better understand the range of views and to build relationships and consensus between representatives.  We need to start by building understanding of the opportunities for reform that exist in this area and to progress only on the basis of clear understanding and mutual trust.

We Asked

For your views on the notification of the Mid Cornwall Moors SSSI.

You Said

Whether you objected, supported or were neutral towards the notification; see Annex 1 of Natural England Board paper under ‘Board meetings’ at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england/about/our-governance

Responses through Citizen Space: see "Results Updated 15 November 2017" for a file showing comments from RSPB which expressed support for the Mid Cornwall Moors SSSI notification. 

We Did

Consider all objections and representations.  Officers discussed and clarified points with individuals to ensure the notification documents and evidence were understood, and discussed the meaning of the SSSI in relation to farming and land management.  Officers made recommendations to the Board of Natural England who approved confirmation of the notification with modifications to the boundary map (removing land not considered to be of special scientific interest) along with changes to the citation (description of the special interest).  The final legal documents are available on this page.

Details of the Board’s decision will be available in due course at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england/about/our-governance.

The Mid Cornwall Moors SSSI is now protected in perpetuity.

We Asked

For your views on the notification of the West Pennine Moors SSSI.

You Said

Whether you objected, supported or were neutral towards the notification, see Annex 1 of Natural England Board paper under ‘Board meetings’ at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england/about/our-governance

See "Results Updated 10 Aug 2017"  for a file showing comments from individuals who were either in support of, or neutral towards the West Pennine Moors SSSI notification. 

We Did

Consider all objections and representations.  Officers discussed and clarified points with individuals to ensure the notification documents and evidence were understood, and discussed the meaning of the SSSI in relation to farming and land management.  Officers made recommendations to the Board of Natural England who approved confirmation of the notification with modifications to the boundary map (removing land not considered to be of sufficient special scientific interest) along with changes to the citation (description of the special interest) and views about management to improve their clarity.  The final legal documents are available on this page.

Details of the Board’s decision will be available in due course at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england/about/our-governance.

The West Pennine Moors SSSI is now protected in perpetuity. 

 

We Asked

For your views on the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order (as amended) 2011 as part of our statutory responsibility to Parliament.

You Said

The overall number of responses to the consultation were supportive of the Order. Responses have ranged from suggestions on amending the Order to retaining the order as it currently stands.

We Did

We are considering the responses and will be formulating a recommendation in the form of a Post Implementation Review. Once this is complete we will submit it to the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) and Reducing Regulation Committee (RRC) for their scrutiny.

We Asked

As part of efforts to improve environmental regulations, last year we proposed simplifying the regulations for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in less sensitive areas (most of the country) and taking a risk based approach to permitting of these systems in the most sensitive areas where a higher level of protection is needed. We proposed retaining the rules that control and prevent pollution, and for these to become known as general binding rules applying to the whole country.

You Said

Responses to the consultation broadly supported the proposals but highlighted concerns about: the loss of information that could have been gathered from registration to help support efforts to improve catchment areas and water bodies; sufficiently protecting sensitive areas and rare habitats; and that any changes needed to be communicated to households and businesses.

We Did

A government response was published in October 2014. In January 2015, new rules were introduced see www.gov.uk/small-sewage-rules The new approach focuses on making sure septic tanks and sewage treatment plants are maintained in good working order, correctly installed and not causing pollution. We are working with catchment partnerships, parish councils, service companies and others to communicate the rules to households and businesses. See our leaflet Your Sewage – Your Environment.

We Asked

The call for evidence on the environment and climate change was part of the UK Government’s Review of the Balance of Competences between the UK and the European Union. The Review provides an informed and objective analysis of what EU membership means for the UK and our national interest. We asked respondents to examine the scope of the EU’s competence, how it is used and its effect on the UK.

You Said

The report is a reflection and analysis of the evidence submitted by experts, non-governmental organisations, business people, elected representatives and other interested parties, as well as a literature review of relevant material. Where appropriate, it sets out the current position agreed within the coalition government for handling this policy area in the EU. It does not predetermine or prejudge proposals that either coalition party may make in the future for changes to the EU or about the

We Did

The final report is available on the Government's website. A document containing all of the evidence submitted to this report and an appendix which sets out respondents’ views on the advantages and disadvantages of EU competence in five areas of environment and climate change policy are published alongside the main report.