Local Designations

T

he Planning Authority for any given area may designate certain areas as being of local conservation interest. Bluebell woodThis is the lowest tier of conservation designation, and varies from area to area. The criteria for inclusion, and the level of protection provided, if any, may not be exactly the same in all areas. In England and Wales most individual counties have a different scheme, although most such schemes are similar, and some are identical. The local plan will designate a certain level of protection for such areas. This will be a purely planning protection, i.e. it will provide a limited level of protection against developments of certain types. However, it provides no protection at all for species and habitats as such, nor does it have any effect upon management - or lack of it.

These areas are given a name and invariably an acronym. For example, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). This acronym is used in Essex, the Isle of Wight and many other counties. The areas have often been identified by the local Wildlife TrustPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet and agreed by the planning authority. In practice, in many areas, the local Wildlife Trust, although a non-statutory body, has the most important role in advising on the scheme. Such areas are sometimes revised regularly, but often revisions are patchy, and if the local plan is old the designations may also be rather old and out-of-date.

Many of these schemes now refer to COWS - an acronym for Country Wildlife Site. Other acronyms include SNCI, ANCI, SCWI and many others.

To find out more about these local designations consult the Wildlife Trust or planning authority for the area you are interested in.

Hampshire County Council SINC website: lots of useful information.