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Natural environment

The Council provides advice and information on the protection and enhancement of the District's natural environment.

The biodiversity officer is responsible for the production and delivery of the Cherwell biodiversity action plan (BAP). The ecology officer assesses planning applications that impact upon important sites, habitats and species.

Our biodiversity service

The Cherwell BAP, which is updated and reviewed every two years, sets out how the Council will fulfil its duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 and meet other biodiversity legislation and policy requirements.

The 2005-2010 BAP provided a comprehensive working document that helped to focus attention and resources on those habitats and species that are particularly important in the district. Although many of the objectives and actions are out of date, the document provides useful background information about sites, habitats and species.

Both BAPs are available to download from this page.

National context

Biodiversity 2020 is a national strategy for England's wildlife and ecosystem services which was published in 2011. It sets out the Government's ambition to halt overall loss of England's biodiversity by 2020, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people. It builds on important elements of the Natural Environment White Paper.

For a summary of Biodiversity 2020, which emphasises the importance of local conservation projects to the delivery of the national strategy's outcomes; and the implications of the Natural Environment White Paper for local authorities, see downloads on this page.

Biodiversity and planning

Four relevant documents are available under downloads -

Some of the important sites, habitats and species in Cherwell are protected by legislation, others by planning policy. Guidance is available in a comprehensive document "Biodiversity and Planning in Oxfordshire".

The most relevant section of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (section 11 paras 109-125) is entitled 'Conserving and enhancing the natural environment' and includes reference to providing net gains for biodiversity where possible, protection and enhancement of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure, promoting priority habitats and species and the importance of ecosystem services and soils.

There is an emphasis within the NPPF on local planning authorities creating local policy and guidance which both reflects the Framework and, at the same time, the needs and priorities of their communities. Neighbourhood planning legislation came into effect in April 2012 which aims to give communities more control over the development of their local area. Local planning authorities must provide support to help people produce their neighbourhood development plan. Some guidance has been produced to advise on biodiversity and neighbourhood planning.

The adopted Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 (Part 1) policies relating to biodiversity and the natural environment (specifically policies ESD10, ESD11 and ESD17) can be found on pages 101-108 & 122-125 of the Local Plan document.

Oxfordshire BAP and conservation target areas

Biodiversity action at a County level is co-ordinated by Wild Oxfordshire. It manages the conservation target area project.

Conservation target areas (CTAs) have been established for a total of 36 large areas across the county and are the most important areas for wildlife where targeted conservation work will have the greatest benefit. These areas cover 17% of the entire county and include 95% of all the sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), 75% of all the local wildlife sites and 85% of all the mapped UK BAP habitat.

CTAs have been identified as they present the best opportunities for prioritising the conservation, enhancement, and re-creation of both designated sites and important habitats. They also form the focus of efforts for reconnecting habitats and creating networks across Oxfordshire. 22 CTAs in the County are active - in other words there is a lead organization that is co-ordinating conservation projects in each of these areas.

For further information about the Oxfordshire BAP and CTAs, see downloads on this page and/or visit the Wild Oxfordshire website under useful links. The summary document has not been updated since the Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum became Wild Oxfordshire but it is factually correct in all other respects.

For further information about SSSIs, visit the Natural England website under useful links and go to land management and then protected sites.

For further information about local wildlife sites and the 'living list' of sites in the Cherwell district, visit the TVERC website under useful links and go to local wildlife sites.

Our partners and projects

Many of the aims and actions within the Cherwell BAP are delivered through the funding of a number of key biodiversity organisations. For further information, go to the Biodiversity Partners webpage 

The Cherwell swift conservation project was established in 2008 and aims to:

  • identify and protect swift nest sites in the district
  • increase nest places for swifts in identified suitable sites
  • improve local knowledge of swifts, their life history and the risks they face, particularly from building work.

For further information, go to the Swifts Conservation Project webpage 

Parish Councils and communities can provide vital help for wildlife by appreciating, protecting and enhancing biodiversity in their local area. Go to the Community and Parish Biodiversity Guidance webpage for more information.

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