A number of laws and policies help protect Bury's wildlife, mainly by giving special status to areas or species. The main ones are described below. Bury has two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 50 Sites of Biological Importance, 13 ancient woodlands, six local nature reserves and is home to three protected species.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, as amended by the 2021 Environment Act, gives public bodies the duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
SSSIs are of national importance for their wildlife, geology or landform and are designated by Natural England. Bury has two SSSIs. One is a small part of the West Pennine Moors SSSI and the other is at Ash Clough on the Bury/Bolton boundary. West Pennine Moors is designated for the quality of its mosaic of upland and upland fringe habitats. Ash Clough is a river cliff important for the geology exposed. The sites are protected by acts of parliament such as the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act.
Sites of Biological Importance (SBIs)
Bury currently has 50 Sites of Biological Importance, which are Bury's best sites for flora and fauna. They are surveyed and designated on behalf of Bury and the other districts of Greater Manchester by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. They are a category of site described nationally as 'sites of local biodiversity interest' and are protected by Unitary Development Plan Policies EN6/1 and EN6/2.
A number of protected species protected by European and National legislation are present in the borough. They include great crested newts, bats and badgers. Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act it is a crime to deliberately harm or damage the habitat of such species. Anyone seeking to work on land occupied by a protected species should seek the advice of a qualified ecologist.
In Greater Manchester there is a District Level Licensing (DLL) scheme for Great Crested Newts, which is a simpler alternative to seeking a traditional licence to carry out work affecting a protected species. For more information go to Greater Manchester Wildlife - Great Crested Newt DLL.
Local nature reserves (LNRs)
Nature reserves are designated by Local Authorities under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act as places for people to enjoy and learn abut nature. In December 1997 Bury Council adopted a target, recommended by English Nature, of having one hectare of local nature reserve per 1000 people. Bury currently has 6 declared local nature reserves, at Philips Park, Chesham, Hollins Vale, Redisher Woods. Kirklees Valley and Chapelfield. Bury's LNRs are protected by Unitary Development Plan EN6/2.
Wildlife corridors and links
Wildlife corridors are the routes by which species migrate or extend their territory. Without them habitats would be smaller, fragmented and of less value. It is therefore important that the corridors, some of which are very narrow, are not severed. The borough's wildlife corridors are protected by Unitary Development Plan policy EN6/4 and are the subject of a Supplementary Planning Guidance Note.
Other features of ecological value
The borough's Unitary Development Plan recognises that there may be areas or features of wildlife interest which do not fall into the above categories. These are protected by Plan policy EN6/3.
Biodiversity net gain
Para 174(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework and s98 of the 2021 Environment Act require new development to create a net gain in the site's biodiversity value. The formal national system for doing this is expected to be introduced in 2023, but in the meantime, Policy JP-G 9 of the draft development strategy for Greater Manchester, 'Places for Everyone', requires new developments in GM to produce a 10% gain in value, which can be demonstrated using version 3.0 of the biodiversity metric developed by Natural England. For further information see: Greater Manchester Combined Authority - Biodiversity net gain.