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Natural Environment & Rural Communities Bill
AIM
This bill creates a single countryside agency, Natural England, to manage the natural environment.

MAIN PROVISIONS
BILL'S PROGRESS
Responsible department: Defra
Origin: House of Commons
Introduced: 19 May 2005
Second reading: 6 June 2005
Committee stage: 22,24,28,30 June & 5 July 2005
Remaining stages: 11 October 2005
Consideration of Lords amendments: 29 March 2006

LORDS

First reading: 12 October 2005
Second reading: 7 November 2005
Committee stage: 24 & 30 Jan, 1, 8, 27 & 28 Feb 2006
Report stage: 15 & 20 March 2006
Third reading: 27 March 2006

ROYAL ASSENT: 30 March 2006
  • The integrated agency, to be established by January 2007, will encompass English Nature, part of the Countryside Agency and most of the Rural Development Service to be responsible for access to and quality of life in countryside
  • Establishes a Commission for Rural Communities as a watchdog for rural interests
  • Improves flexibility and funding for bodies under Defra remit
  • Streamlines rural services and modernises wildlife and national park legislation

    BACKGROUND
    This legislation emanates from the government's rural strategy published in July 2004 and it is broadly the same as the draft Modernising Rural Delivery Bill of February 2005.

    Many of the proposals are also drawn from the Rural Delivery review Lord Haskins has been working on since November 2002, following the Rural White Paper of November 2000 and the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.

    The amalgamated agency will replace:-
    English Nature which champions conservation and biodiversity and recently led the government GM crop trials
    The Countryside Agency replaced the Countryside Commission in 1999 to represent rural communities and policies including the right to roam
    The Forestry Commission was reorganised into distinct bodies for the England, Scotland and Wales in 2005, to manage over 1m hectares of wood and forest land


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