The purpose of the project is to increase the understanding of the implications of Natural England undertaking its new legal duty under the 2012 amendment to the Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010 (Section 23). Natural England has always had a duty under these Regulations to review any consents that were issued under section 28E(3)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended) (thereafter WCA 1981) on land which subsequently became a European site but previously it was discretionary whether any action was taken in light of any such review in terms of affirming, modifying or revoking such a consent. This discretionary aspect has now been removed by the 2012 amendment and Natural England now has a legal duty to affirm, modify or revoke any such consents issued on European sites, as soon as is reasonably practicable.
The main aim is to assess the consequences relating to this legal duty in relation to modifying, revoking and/or replacement of a consent by working through a number of different scenarios for some of the more significant landholdings across the designated site network. The work will include an assessment of the financial implications of each course of action including an appraisal of the effects on the on-going and long term management of the each site.
The main focus of the project will be on a number of sites which have been identified as having blanket bog as an interest feature and have land management regimes typical in the uplands. The Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) that have been selected for the project are as follows, Bowes Moor SSSI, South Pennine Moors SSSI, Moorhouse to Cross Fell SSSI and North York Moors SSSI.