Natural England - How are Local Nature Reserves declared?

How are Local Nature Reserves declared?

Local Nature Reserve (or LNR) is a statutory designation made under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and amended by Schedule 11 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, by principal local authorities.

Parish and Town Councils can also declare LNRs but they must have the powers to do so delegated to them by a principal local authority.

  • To establish an LNR, the declaring local authority must first have a legal interest in the land concerned. This means owning the freehold, leasing it or having a nature reserve agreement with the owner.

  • The land need not lie within the area which the declaring authority controls but if it does not, the authority within whose jurisdiction the land falls must be in agreement.

Local authorities must consult Natural England in the process of selecting, acquiring, declaring and managing LNRs and their expertise and advice can help smooth the process.

If a local authority has, or knows of, any area of land which it thinks would make a good LNR, they should contact our Enquiry Service to discuss the proposal informally. The area team will be able to advise whether they consider the land to be suitable and, if so, the sort of management it might require. The team can also provide help on how to go about making the declaration. For more details see Local Nature Reserves in England: a guide to their selection and declarationexternal link.

The local authority should also consult local communities and voluntary conservation bodies such as the county Wildlife Trust and put together outline management proposals for the site, making it clear what the long term objectives are. Thought should be given as to how the desired management of the site could be funded and any other costs involved.

The local authority then needs to write formally to the Natural England regional team to the effect that it intends to make the LNR declaration.

The following steps should then be taken:

  • a formal declaration document should be drawn up (this need only be on one side of A4 paper) accompanied by a map at a scale which accurately shows the LNR boundary;

  • the declaration should be agreed by the relevant local authority committees;

  • a public notice announcing the declaration should be placed in a local paper and copies of the declaration and map made available for the public to inspect free of charge;

  • the local authority should formally notify the Natural England regional team of the LNR declaration in writing and send them a copy of the declaration, together with maps and any other details required about the reserve. Natural England will advise on what these are.

An official opening ceremony can be held after the above formalities have been completed, so allowing time to plan events and carry out initial management and interpretive work.

Parish and Town Councils

Both Parish and Town Councils are defined as local authorities by the Local Government Act 1972external link. See, respectively, Sections 270 and 245(6).

Under Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972, a principal local authority (i.e. a county or district) can, with the agreement of both parties, delegate its powers to declare an LNR either to a Parish or a Town Council.