Natural England is an executive, non-departmental public body responsible for advising the government on the natural environment. It was established in October 2006 to replace the Countryside Agency, English Nature and the Rural Development Service.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 defines the purpose of Natural England as to:
“ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development”.
As an organisation, Natural England covers the whole of England extending up to 12 nautical miles out to sea and provides a range of specialist advice at the local and national level. It works closely with many partners including national and local government, businesses, civil society groups and other agencies.
 Responsibilities of Natural England
Natural England is responsible for:
- Advising on the protection of the marine environment in inshore waters.
- Assisting farmers and land managers to safeguard wildlife and landscapes.
- Advising on planning matters and issuing wildlife licences.
- Enhancing public access to the coast.
- Managing the National Nature Reserve network and providing support for National Trails.
- Running habitat creation or restoration projects.
- The provision of evidence to help inform decisions affecting the natural environment.
 Priorities of Natural England
- Terrestrial biodiversity.
- Landscape geodiversity.
- Marine biodiversity.
- Access and engagement.
- Environmental land management.
- National Nature Reserves.
- Support for the planning system.
- Wildlife management.
 Supporting sustainable development
Natural England plays a key role in advising on planning matters and are statutory consultees on certain types of developments. It is possible to undertake pre-application discussions with Natural England in advance of an application being submitted. Initial advice is offered free of charge and further advice can be provided on a charged basis.
 Discretionary Advice Service
A Discretionary Advice Service is offered to developers under the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), the Planning Act (2008) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009). Advice is offered on development likely to effect:
- Special areas of conservation and special protected areas.
- Ramsar sites.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- Marine Protected Areas.
- Protected landscapes (National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Discretionary advice is also offered for developments that result in significant (more than 5ha)biodiversity benefit.
Advice can be sought at the pre-application, post-consent and pre-determination stages of a project.
 Standing Advice
Natural England has published standing advice to offer competent authorities assistance in formulating risk-based decisions without consultation. It is available for a range of protected species, plants and ancient woodlands from the Natural England website.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Designated sites.
- Local Nature Reserve.
- National nature reserves.
- National parks.
- National trails.
- National Trust.
- Natural environment white paper.
- Natural Resources Wales.
- Nature improvement area.
- Planning permission.
- Protected species.
- Protected species licence.
- Scottish Natural Heritage.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
- Statutory consultees.
- Wildlife and Countryside Act.
 External references
Featured articles and news
Read about RSHP's British Museum extension which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Stirling Prize.
Read our introductory article to building a house extension.
More updates from DCMS about the large-scale testing of cladding systems and the number of buildings affected.
UandI secure resolution to grant planning consent for major new regeneration project.
IHBC article considers how heritage is dealt with when infrastructure schemes are authorised.
It was the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, but to this day the exact construction techniques are a mystery.
Shortlist for the industry's most coveted award announced.
Government responds to Mark Farmer's review of industry, rejecting the call for a levy on clients.
Peter Hansford to examine what wider lessons can be learned from the fire.
Every project is subject to uncertainty. How can construction better understand uncertainty for performance improvement?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a futuristic campus for electric car manufacturer.
Homebuyers could borrow more with better forecasting of energy bills, according to industry consortium's new report.
Read our introductory article on carbon capture and storage.