Countryside - information and advice

Countryside & Wildlife Legislation

In order to protect nature and wildlife there are several separate pieces of legislation.

If you are doing any type of work outdoors it is important to know about wildlife and countryside law and how it is interpreted in order to avoid prosecution, imprisonment or fines.

It is commonly believed by many people that there is total freedom to do anything with a piece of land which they own, THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

Both species and habitats (plants, animals or fungi and the types of areas they are found) can be protected. It is important to be aware of these in order to avoid prosecution and fines. Not knowing about legislation as an excuse for causing damage is not accepted as a legal excuse.

There are four nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough. Two lie within the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Administrative Area; Darren Fach SSSI and Nant Glais Caves SSSI. The other two lie within Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Administrative Area:

  • Taf Fechan SSSI (woodland)
  • Cwm Glo a Glyndyrus SSSI (grassland/fungi/mosaic)

Individual, groups of trees and woodlands within Merthyr Tydfil County Borough are protected by TREE PRESERVATION ORDERS. It is important to also check the volume and type of wood you are cutting as well as properly checking for nesting birds and bats to ensure that legislation is followed. Hedgerows can also be protected if they meet the criteria for classification as ‘important’ hedgerows.

The main legislation concerned directly with protecting wildlife and habitats are:

  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • The Protection of Badgers Act 1992
  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010
  • The Hedgerow Regulations 1997
  • The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
  • The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

N.B. Legislation can often be updated or specific to individual countries, such as Wales, so it is important to ensure that the most relevant and up to date legislation is used.

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