Local Sites

Local Sites

Local Wildlife Sites are important to future ecological networks, because they not only provide wildlife refuges in their own right but can act as stepping stones and corridors to link and protect nationally and internationally designated sites.
Prof. Sir John Lawton
'Making Space for Nature' report to DEFRA Sep 2010

What are Local Sites?

Local Sites are a comprehensive network of sites of nature conservation importance, designated as either Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) or Local Geological Sites (LGS) according to their key features of interest. They provide refuges for wildlife and represent local character and distinctiveness, complementing other designation site networks.

Local Sites are important areas of our countryside that have only survived as a result of the way they have been managed. Designating an area as a Local Site is a way to recognise their important value.

There are currently 258 Local Sites designated in Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Local Wildlife Sites

Areas that hold important, distinctive and/or threatened species or habitats across the county.

Local Geological Sites

Important geological and geomorphological sites which have been identified as being of great importance locally.

How are these sites protected?

Local Sites are non-statutory designated areas, and as such they are not directly protected by law. However, the designation of Local Sites helps Local Planning Authorities to fulfil their obligation to identify, map and safeguard local wildlife-rich habitats, as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 174). These sites are therefore offered a level of protection during the planning process.

Because Local Sites are non-statutory designated areas, the owner of the land remains in control of how the land is managed, and no obligations are placed on the landowners. All existing Rights of Way remain unchanged by the designation and no additional Rights of Way or access are created. In some cases, presence of a Local Site may assist in the application for an agri-environment scheme.

Designations may have been made as long as 40 years ago, and as land ownership changes hands people may be unaware that they are custodian of a Local Site. If you suspect that you may own land which is designated within the scheme, please get in contact with us.

How is the system managed?

The administrative areas of Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside have chosen to work together as one Local Sites Partnership. This partnership is responsible for determining which sites are selected for designation. Northumberland Wildlife Trust administers the system for the partnership.

Since the 2000s, criteria have been developed by this partnership for the selection of Local Wildlife Sites (please note these are constantly reviewed and revised).

More information

In 2016, DEFRA published guidance on the identification, selection and management of Local Sites.

The Wildlife Trusts also published a short guide to Local Sites which can be accessed here.

In 2017/2018, The Wildlife Trusts also carried out a survey to assess the status of England’s Local Sites which can be viewed here.

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding Local Sites in Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside, please get in touch by emailing data@northwt.org.uk.

If you are, or suspect you are, in ownership of land within a designated site, then please also get in touch by emailing at the above address. We offer free, bespoke advice to all Local Site landowners.

If you are looking to access our Local Sites enquiry service, then find out more here.