Local sites

Local Sites are sites of substantive nature conservation value. Although they do not have any statutory status, many are equal in quality to the representative sample of sites that make up the series of statutory Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Local Sites systems encompass both biodiversity and geological conservation. There is no single National system for identifying Local Sites.

The names given to Local Sites vary between systems. In Lancashire Local Sites comprise:

Defra Guidance

Defra has produced guidance intended to promote more transparent and consistent approaches in the operation of Local Sites systems across the country, embracing regional and local diversity and variation within the natural environment. It outlines the purposes of Local Sites systems and proposes frameworks, standards and roles for their operation as well as for the selection, protection and management of the sites themselves.

Effects of local site identification

No new rights of access are created and existing rights of way are unaffected. Ordinary agricultural operations are unaffected. Projects that change the use of the land by bringing uncultivated land or semi-natural areas into intensive agricultural use may be covered by the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2006.

Existing designations 

A site may already have a designation, for instance a Tree Preservation Order or Limestone Pavement Order or be within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Any legal implications of such designations remain unaffected.

Planning applications

Under Government's National Planning Policy Framework, authorities will take local sites into account, along with other planning considerations, when developing plans and determining planning applications.

Local sites are afforded protection through their inclusion in the development plan system for Lancashire. If you are proposing to change your land use in a way that would normally require making a planning application and this is likely to affect a local site, then having sites information to hand should help you to draw up your plans.

Some local sites may support habitats or species which have specific protection under other legislation, such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the EC Habitats or Birds Directives.

Benefits for owners or managers

We recognize the problems and costs that farmers and landowners currently face in managing land and maintaining habitats for wildlife.

Grant aid and specialist advice are available, from a variety of sources, to help you maintain and possibly enhance the nature conservation interest of your land.

Owning or managing a BHS or LGS may increase the likelihood of successfully applying for environmental grants.