|Formed||1 October 2006|
|Employees||2,171 (2019) |
|Annual budget||£194 million (2015) |
|Parent agency||Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
Natural England is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.
Natural England focuses its activities and resources on four strategic outcomes:
As a non-departmental public body (NDPB), Natural England is independent of government. However, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has the legal power to issue guidance to Natural England on various matters,  a constraint that was not placed on its predecessor NDPBs.
Its powers include defining ancient woodlands, awarding grants, designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, managing certain national nature reserves, overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights, and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example environmental stewardship, the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, environmentally sensitive areas, and the Access to Nature Scheme. It has been severely criticised recently [ when? ] by badger protection lobbyists for allegedly ignoring scientific data and granting extended badger cull licences to DEFRA. [ citation needed ]
Natural England's latest corporate plan sets out its goals and detailed objectives.  It is responsible for the delivery of some of Defra's public service agreements (e.g. reversing the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 and improving public access to the countryside).
Natural England takes its finance, human resources and estates services from the Defra Shared Services organisation.  Information technology services are outsourced to IBM. 
Natural England was established on 1 October 2006 by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006,  which implemented the recommendations of a rural review by The Baron Haskins of Skidby. It was formed by the amalgamation of three founder bodies:
It received the powers of the founder bodies.
Natural England joined the 10:10 project in 2009 in a bid to reduce its own carbon footprint. One year later they announced that they had reduced their carbon emissions (according to 10:10's criteria) by 13%.[ citation needed ]
In 2008, Sir Martin Doughty, the Chairman of Natural England, warned the Prime Minister of the potential danger of genetically modified crops.  However, in 2012, Poul Christensen, CBE, the next Chairman of Natural England, said that middle England should embrace new technologies like GM crops as long as there were adequate testing and safeguards. 
As a Public Body Natural England has been subject to pay Freezes and pay restrictions following the 2008 financial crash, and is likely to be subject to the 2020 three year pay freeze also. Natural England staff have now been subject to pay freezes and 1% pay increases. Staff and Unions representing staff have voiced concerns over the duration of these pay restraints and issues including equality and disparity between Public body pay increases. 
The following take from 2 December 2020 Research briefing on Public body pay. 
"In 2010, the Coalition Government announced a two-year pay freeze from 2011/12. Following cuts to local government funding, local government workers were subject to a three-year pay freeze.
From 2013/14 to 2017/18 public sector pay awards were capped at an average of 1%.
This policy was lifted in 2017 and from 2018/19 to 2020/21 the parts of the public sector that are covered by the PRBs received pay rises above 2%.
The Trades Union Congress has criticised the constraints that were in place from 2010, arguing that they led to a "decade of lost pay".
The severity of the cuts by the Conservative government to Natural England in particular have been reported in the media including The Guardian newspaper. 
There also exists pay disparities between the staff who came from original bodies which vested to Natural England - The Rural Development Service, English Nature and the Countryside Agency. On this matter, and the pay freeze and pay reductions over 10 years Unions representing Natural England staff have threatened strike action.  
In May 2008, Natural England published a report, State of the Natural Environment, which brought together statistics and facts about England's environment. The report was intended to be used by environmental organisations as a benchmark and source for policy development. It complements reports on different topics produced by other organisations:
Natural England funded eight pilot green exercise projects through local regional partnerships. These projects increased levels of physical activity and people's connections to their local green spaces. However, it was not clear whether these projects really changed people's long-term attitudes. 
Natural England is promoting the concept of green infrastructure as a way to deliver a wide range of benefits for people and the natural environment together. It believes that green infrastructure should be delivered via the spatial planning system, as an integral part of new development everywhere, and also form a key part of proposals to regenerate existing urban areas. 
Natural England is working with partners in the growth areas, growth points and proposed eco-towns to prepare and implement green infrastructure strategies and demonstrate good practice on the ground.
Natural England is one of the steering group partners of Neighbourhoods Green, a green Infrastructure partnership initiative which works with social landlords and housing associations to highlight the importance of, and raise the overall quality of, design and management for open and green space in social housing.
Natural England was challenged in High Court in 2006 by Peter Boggis, a pensioner who protected his house from erosion. Natural England claimed that as the site of Boggis's house, at Easton Bavents north of Southwold on the Suffolk coast was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the protection went against the scientific community's interests. Natural England lost the case in 2009, when Mr. Justice Blair, the brother of the former Prime Minister, ruled that Mr. Boggis' "human predicament" was more important than the site's SSSI status. Natural England won the subsequent appeal in October 2009. 
On 23 April 2019, Natural England (NE) announced that it was revoking three general licences in England for controlling certain wild birds using firearms. The removal was without consultation or communication. These licences covered 16 species of birds including several species of crow, gull and pigeon, along with non-native species such as Canada goose and sacred ibis.  Natural England took the decision following a legal challenge by the environmental group Wild Justice which questioned the legality of the general licences. This rendered farmers temporarily unable to kill these species without applying for individual licences.  
On 26 April 2019 NE issued the first of a series of replacement licences, covering the killing of carrion crows, and announced its intention to issue further licences in the coming weeks.  Defra issued further licences for the majority of the species covered by the original general licences, apart from Eurasian jay and rook.
At NE's request,  the Environment Secretary Michael Gove took over responsibility for the general licences from Natural England on 4 May 2019. 
The Countryside Agency was a statutory body set up in England in 1999 with the task of improving the quality of the rural environment and the lives of those living in it. The agency was dissolved in 2006 and its functions dispersed among other bodies.
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Great Britain or an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) in the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man. SSSI/ASSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in the United Kingdom are based upon them, including national nature reserves, Ramsar sites, Special Protection Areas, and Special Areas of Conservation. The acronym "SSSI" is often pronounced "triple-S I".
English Nature was the United Kingdom government agency that promoted the conservation of wildlife, geology and wild places throughout England between 1990 and 2006. It was a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and gave statutory advice, grants and issued licences.
This page gives an overview of the complex structure of environmental and cultural conservation in the United Kingdom.
NatureScot, which was formerly known as Scottish Natural Heritage, is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for the country's natural heritage, especially its natural, genetic and scenic diversity. It advises the Scottish Government on nature conservation, and acts as a government agent in the delivery of conservation designations, i.e. national nature reserves, local nature reserves, national parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and the national scenic areas. It receives annual funding from the Government in the form of Grant in Aid to deliver Government priorities for the natural heritage.
The Countryside Council for Wales was a Welsh Assembly sponsored body responsible for wildlife conservation, landscape and countryside access authority for Wales. It was merged with Forestry Commission Wales, and Environment Agency Wales to form Natural Resources Wales, a single body managing Wales' environment and natural resources, on 1 April 2013.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an area of countryside in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, that has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. Areas are designated in recognition of their national importance by the relevant public body: Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency respectively. In place of AONB, Scotland uses the similar national scenic area (NSA) designation. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty enjoy levels of protection from development similar to those of UK national parks, but unlike national parks the responsible bodies do not have their own planning powers. They also differ from national parks in their more limited opportunities for extensive outdoor recreation.
The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the management of publicly owned forests and the regulation of both public and private forestry in England.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom implemented to comply with European Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. In short, the act gives protection to native species, controls the release of non-native species, enhances the protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and builds upon the rights of way rules in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Act is split into 4 parts covering 74 sections; it also includes 17 schedules.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom. Concordats set out agreed frameworks for co operation, between it and the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive, which have devolved responsibilities for these matters in their respective nations.
The Environment Agency (EA) is a non-departmental public body, established in 1996 and sponsored by the United Kingdom government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England.
The Countryside Stewardship Scheme was originally an agri-environment scheme run by the United Kingdom Government set up in 1991. In its original form it expired in 2014. It was relaunched for the Rural Development Programme England (RDPE) 2014-2020 with £3.1bn of government subsidy for agriculture and forestry, replacing the previous Environmental Stewardship scheme.
The Rural Development Service (RDS) was formerly part of the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It ceased to exist on 1 October 2006 following the creation of Natural England.
A country park is a natural area designated for people to visit and enjoy recreation in a countryside environment.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is an executive agency of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The RPA delivers the European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to farmers and traders in England, paying out over £2 billion in subsidies each year. The Agency managing more than 40 schemes, the largest of which the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) paying more than £1.5 billion to around 105,000 claimants a year.
The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) was established as a division of England's Countryside Agency on 1 April 2005, and became a non-departmental public body on 1 October 2006, following the enactment of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. The chairman of the commission was Stuart Burgess.
"Environmental Quality" is a set of properties and characteristics of the environment, either generalized or local, as they impinge on human beings and other organisms. It is a measure of the condition of an environment relative to the requirements of one or more species, any human need or purpose.
Driven grouse shooting is the hunting of the red grouse, a field sport of the United Kingdom. The grouse-shooting season extends from 12 August, often called the "Glorious Twelfth", to 10 December each year. Large numbers of grouse are driven to fly over people with shotguns. Driven grouse shooting first appeared around 1850 and became popular in the later Victorian era as a fashionable sport for the wealthy. The expanding rail network allowed relatively easy access into the remote upland areas of Britain for the first time and driven grouse shooting developed in tandem with this by providing shooting in a convenient and reliable form. Large numbers of birds are driven over a fixed position providing a regular supply of fast moving targets without the need to seek out the birds. The development of the breech-loading shotgun was also an essential ingredient in the development of the practice as it allowed more rapid reloading in the field matching the availability of target birds.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, also referred to as the NERC Act (2006), is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In a reorganisation of public bodies involved in rural policy and delivery, the measures dissolved English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service, and established Natural England.