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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
New body for countryside created
Lambs in the countryside
The new body will aim to deliver recommendations by Lord Haskins
A new government agency for the countryside will be created when three existing organisations are merged.

Natural England will take over responsibility for resource management, conservation, biodiversity, landscape, access and recreation in rural areas.

From Sunday, English Nature will combine with parts of the Countryside Agency and Rural Development Service.

A report by Lord Haskins in 2003 said the current number of rural agencies was confusing and too bureaucratic.

'Environmental champion'

He recommended merging some of the many different agencies for the countryside into a new integrated rural body.

Natural England is designed to be a "strong, independent and powerful environmental champion".

A spokesman for Natural England said: "The aim is to meet the priorities as highlighted in the Haskins Report in rural delivery, wildlife conservation and countryside access."

The three bodies have been working together as a "confederation of partners" since April 2005.

Proposals to set up Natural England were contained in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill.

The handover of powers takes place on Sunday and the Sheffield-based agency will be formally launched on 11 October.


SEE ALSO
Countryside promised a new voice
23 Nov 04 |  UK Politics

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