Select Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
The countryside at a crossroads: Is the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 still fit for purpose?

Report of Session 2017-19 - published 22 March 2017 - HL Paper 99



Conclusions and recommendations

Chapter 1: Introduction and background

Why hold an inquiry now?

Background to the Act

The Haskins Review and the 2004 Rural Strategy

Major provisions of the Act

Restructuring of organisations


Rights of way

Territorial extent of the Act

Developments since 2006

Lawton Review and the Natural Environment White Paper

The Defra Triennial Review, June 2013

The closure of the Commission for Rural Communities

The Environment (Wales) Act 2016


The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan

Chapter 2: Brexit and the natural environment

The accountability and enforcement capacity of the EU

A new environmental body?

Environmental monitoring and reporting following Brexit

Chapter 3: The role of Natural England


The funding and independence of Natural England

The role of a non-departmental public body

Independence from Government

Funding and resources

Moving from a regulatory to a collaborative approach

Input into the development planning process

Net gain

The discretionary advice service

Access to the countryside

Capital investment and maintenance of routes

The promotion of public access

The long-term future of Natural England

Chapter 4: The biodiversity duty

Operation of the duty

Awareness and understanding of the biodiversity duty

Reporting requirements

The loss of biodiversity professionals, knowledge and resources

Wording of the duty

Enforceability of the duty

The changing context since 2006, and implications for the duty

Box 1: What is Natural Capital?

Chapter 5: Rural communities


The difference between rural policy and rural proofing

The Commission for Rural Communities

Closure of the Commission for Rural Communities

Strengths and weaknesses of the CRC

The closure of the Regional Development Agencies and the RCPU

Rural policy making today

The work of Defra

Limitations and problems

The case for retaining rural policy within Defra

Where should rural policy sit within government?

Rural proofing

The challenge of delivering services for rural communities

Defra and rural proofing

Box 2: Rural housing and the failure of rural proofing

A role for the Cabinet Office?

Chapter 6: Green lanes and rights of way

The effect of the NERC Act 2006

Current issues

The use of Traffic Regulation Orders

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Appendix 4: Acronyms and glossary

Appendix 5: Flowchart of previous organisations

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Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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