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Environment

Why are biodiversity conservation issues important to councillors?

Biodiversity is an issue whose profile has increased dramatically during the past decade. Planning authorities are required to consult and notify English Nature before granting planning permission for developments affecting certain sites that are host to endangered or sensitive plants, animal and habitats. Increasingly, the general public and other stakeholders expect the minerals planning system to fully address biodiversity conservation during the planning, operation, closure and restoration of sites. The planning community's role is to therefore ensure that conservation efforts are properly designed, likely to succeed, and aligned with the UK Government's overall strategy and international commitments.

What is biodiversity conservation?
     
In the UK, biodiversity conservation has traditionally focused on protecting a small number of sites where rare or endangered habitats and species occur. That is now changing, and it is recognised that success will depend on wider conservation efforts outside protected sites and that the conservation of the common and widespread is also very important. Increasingly, it is recognised that company activities may also make a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation, and this is particularly true for well planned and managed quarrying operations.
 
Biodiversity (short for biological diversity) is the term used to describe the variety and variability of all living things and the relationship between them and the habitats in which they live. Globally, society has responded to threats to
  Caterpillar on a leaf
biodiversity by developing international conventions and agreements to promote consistent regulatory, planning and voluntary actions at regional and national levels. In the UK, biodiversity conservation is often co-ordinated using a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP); these plans now cover around 400 species and 40 habitats across the UK. Local plans stem from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP), which identifies how the UK as a whole will contribute to the global conservation of biodiversity between 1994 and 2014. Stakeholder concerns and pressures play an important role in both the UKBAP and LBAPs.

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