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Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment he has made of the effect on biodiversity of the implementation of the provisions of section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006; and whether his Department has issued recent guidance to local authorities in respect of applications to create (a) byways open to all traffic and (b) restricted byways. (283010)

I have been asked to reply.

My Department has commissioned a study to review the impact of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act section 40 biodiversity duty.

This study, by Entec, will comprise a large scale survey of public bodies this summer, follow-up interviews with a smaller sample of bodies and views from other stakeholders. It is expected to report in November this year. The steering group includes representatives from DEFRA, Natural England, Devolved Administrations, local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

A publication called “Making the Best of Byways”, published by DEFRA in 2005, provides advice on managing the different sorts of traffic on byways. In addition, DEFRA published guidance entitled “Regulating the Use of Motor Vehicles on Rights of Way and Off Road”, which was sent to all local highway authorities. We believe this is the first step in providing information to local authorities, the police and Community Safety Partnerships on getting the most out of existing legislation, and to encourage the formation of local partnerships.