The key statutory provisions to protect wildlife habitats are set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended); the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017; the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017; the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006; and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. These protections are also reflected in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which, following public consultation, has been amended to offer further protections for ancient woodland and other irreplaceable habitat, while also strengthening requirements for biodiversity net gain.
Defra has undertaken a review of the effectiveness of the regulations that implement the EU Nature Directives in England. The review’s findings were published in March 2012. The review did not identify a need to amend the statutory provisions but led to a number of improvements in regard to implementation.