Natural environment and biodiversity
The natural environment of Pendle is rich and varied and has a wide range of biodiversity associated with it. High quality environments and habitats can be protected by international, national, regional or local designations.
Designations can be made to recognise the natural beauty of the landscape, for example the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); or for the importance of the site as a habitat for wildlife, for example the South Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The Pendle Biodiversity Audit (2010) helps inform new planning policies that make up part of the Local Plan.
The designation, care and maintenance of natural environment designations in Pendle is the responsibility of the following partner organisations:
- Lancashire County Council - Environment Directorate - Ecology Service
- Lancashire County Council - Forest of Bowland AONB
- Lancashire Wildlife Trust
- Natural England
Pendle has one internationally designated site. The South Pennine Moors has been classified as being a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and also a Special Protection Area (SPA).
The site is the largest unenclosed moorland within West Yorkshire and contains the most diverse and extensive examples of upland plant communities in the county. Three habitat types which occur on the site are rare enough within Europe to be listed on Annex I of the EC Habitats and Species Directive (92/43)EEC.
This habitat supports a moorland breeding bird grouping which, because of the range of species and number of breeding birds it contains, is of regional and national importance. The large numbers of breeding Merlin, Golden Plover and Twite are of international importance.
SACs are designated under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna (The Habitats Directive) whilst SPA's are designated under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (The Birds Directive). The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) formally transposes these EU Directives into national law.
Pendle has two national sites which are the South Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
SSSIs are designated through Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). They are statutory and are designated to protect the habitats of threatened species of wildlife. The South Pennine Moors have been designated as a SSSI because of their important populations of breeding birds such as Merlin, Red Grouse, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Twite and Short-eared Owl.
Created by the legislation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, AONBs represent 18% of the finest countryside in England and Wales. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a precious landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard them.
The area around Pendle Hill forms an outlier on the south-eastern edge of the Forest of Bowland AONB, which is designated as being of national and international importance because of its unspoiled and richly diverse landscapes, wildlife and heritage.
Biological Heritage Sites (BHS) are considered the most important Local Site designation in Lancashire. They contain valuable habitats such as ancient woodland, species-rich grassland and bogs and are of at least County sub-regional significance. Many provide a refuge for rare and threatened plants and animals. There are currently 61 BHSs in Pendle.
Just as the biological interest of sites can be recognised and conserved so can the importance of certain geological sites and landforms which are also important habitats. In Lancashire such sites are known as Local Geodiversity Sites (LGS) and there are three LGSs in Pendle.
Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 gives local authorities the power to acquire, declare and manage Local Nature Reserves. Commonly referred to as LNRs they are statutory and must afford special opportunities for study and research on wildlife or natural features and must preserve flora, fauna or geological features of special interest in the area.
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are for both people and wildlife. They are places with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally and offer people the opportunity to study or learn about nature, or simply to enjoy it. Pendle has four LNR's which cover a total area of 15.3 hectares:
- Alkincoats Woodland, Colne
- Upper Ballgrove Lodge, Colne
- Greenfield, Colne
- Lomeshaye Marsh, Nelson
There is also a second non-statutory designation - Sites of Local Natural Importance (LNIs) of which there are seven in Pendle. In Government Circular 06/2005, it was recognised that there were many sites around the country which, whilst having nature conservation value, were not of such a high standard to merit a level of protection or status such as LNR or BHS. Also, they were identified by differing criteria standards and given different names by different authorities.
As a consequence, in 2006 DEFRA produced a document called 'Local Sites - Guidance on their Identification, Selection and Management' to assist in the development and management of systems to identify sites of local importance for nature conservation in England.