Biodiversity Strategy

The Council’s Biodiversity Strategy was approved by full council on 12 December 2018 and adopted as part of the Council’s major policy framework. 

The strategy meets the biodiversity duty brought in by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act.

Green Infrastructure

Natural Networks Partnership

The Natural Networks Partnership consists of local and national organisations including:

  • Peterborough City Council
  • Natural England
  • Peterborough Environment City Trust
  • The Wildlife Trust

The Natural Networks Partnership produced Peterborough's Green Grid strategy and has successfully bid for funding to implement projects such as:

  • resurfacing of the Green Wheel cycle route
  • creation of wildlife habitats, land purchase to the west of Peterborough to secure new accessible nature reserves
  • South Peterborough Green Parks Project which aims to provide a large area of multi-functional and interconnected green spaces.

There is now a list of 25 priority projects which the Partnership are seeking to obtaining funding for. The projects are based on geographical areas and can be found in the attached document (right).

Local nature partnership

The government is now encouraging the formation of Local Nature Partnerships.

It is intended that the Natural Networks Partnership will merge with the Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure Forum and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership to form an effective delivery group.

County Wildlife sites

A County Wildlife Site is a non-statutory designation used to identify high quality wildlife habitats in a county context. The designation is used to identify land important for its wildlife. These include valuable semi-natural habitats such as ancient woodland, species-rich grasslands, wetlands, roadside verges and hedgerows. The habitats and species that live there flourish because of past management practices and many sites provide a refuge for rare or threatened plants and animals.

Together with statutory sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), County Wildlife Sites form an important part of the wildlife resource in the wider countryside helping to link and buffer sites.

There are 461 CWS across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with 106 CWS plus 6 Local Geological Sites in Peterborough.

Please note: CWS designation does not automatically make the site accessible to the public. In many cases you will not be allowed to go onto a CWS without first obtaining the landowners permission. For detailed survey information on a CWS please contact the Environmental Records Centre Tel (01954) 713570. If you would like some advice on management please contact the Wildlife Sites Officer at the local Wildlife Trust Tel (01954) 713500.

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How a County Wildlife site is selected

Survey data is gathered and sites are selected by assessing their wildlife importance in a county context against carefully constructed selection criteria. Those meeting the thresholds contained within the guidelines are then selected for designation. The County Wildlife Site system is intended to be flexible, so that newly discovered sites that meet the selection guidelines can be added, whilst those that are known to have deteriorated can be removed.

Implications for landowners and developers

Owning a County Wildlife Site does not mean that there will be open public access to your land. Existing public rights of way remain unaffected and no rights of access are created. The majority of ordinary land management and agricultural operations remain unaffected. Identification of a County Wildlife Site does not give anyone other than the landowner or manager control over land management. However, following recent new regulations, some operations on County Wildlife Sites may require an Environmental Impact Assessment. Further information on the Regulations, or for an application form can be obtained from Defra, call the freephone EIA helpline on 0800 028 2140 or email 

If your proposal involves afforestation, deforestation, forest roads or forest quarries further information and advice is available from the East of England Forestry Commission Conservancy Office based at Santon Downham, Suffolk. Telephone (01842) 815544 or email The recognition of a County Wildlife Site could assist you in attracting grant aid money such as environmental stewardship and woodland grants. Sympathetic management is encouraged and there are people able to assist you by providing further information and advice.

Wildlife recording

We have supported the setting up of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre. Based in Cambourne, the centre seeks to gather, store and share information about wildlife, habitats and protected species. It aims to make this information accessible to a wide audience including schools, individuals and organisations.

Visit the centre's website to find out more about the centre and how to submit your own wildlife records online.

Barn owl recovery project

Between 1932 and 1985 the barn owl population of the British Isles fell by 70% by 1985 it was down to just 4000 breeding pairs. In an attempt to reverse this decline Barn Owl Species Recovery Areas were set up across the country. One of these areas was the fenland landscape to the east of the city and we have been one of the key supporters of the recovery project since its beginning.


Barn owls are among the most protected birds in the country. They are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act

  • It is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or take/destroy its eggs or nest
  • It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a barn owl while it is preparing to nest, at a nest with eggs or young or to disturb dependant young
  • A special licence is required from Natural England to undertake nest inspection and surveys of breeding barn owls

Barn owl facts

  • Barn owls can live in a variety of different landscapes but are most often found in areas of open grassland and the edges of woodland
  • they occupy home ranges extending 2 km from their nest location during the breeding season increasing to up to 5 km over winter
  • Two things are essential to barn owl survival, food and nesting opportunities
  • Barn owls will normally nest between March and August in cavities in agricultural buildings, trees and barn owl nest boxes
  • When food such as field voles is plentiful the owls can raise up to two broods of chicks in a year, however when food is in short supply breeding success is often very low.

Recovery project

The Peterborough barn owl recovery project has been hugely successful.

  • A total of 77 nest boxes have been installed
  • Working with local landowners, farmers and managers improvements to feeding habitats have been made
  • In addition new feeding habitats have been created along field margins and drainage ditches

As a result the population of barn owls around Peterborough has expanded from just 5 pairs to 65 pairs so far. The project has been acknowledged as being one of the most successful in the UK, holding one of the highest population densities of this species.

Natural green spaces

The Council is responsible for the management and maintenance of a significant area of public open space across the city. Whilst the majority of this land is currently maintained via a contract with Amey, it was recognized that there remained a few areas of natural greenspace which for various reasons fell outside this contract and consequently were not necessarily being managed to maximise their benefits provided to local wildlife and people.

Therefore the Council commissioned the Wildlife Trust to assist with the co-ordination of management of and community engagement at these sites. The first step in this process was the surveying and writing of management statements which have been prepared for eight sites.

Each site has been described and key features identified with associated management objectives provided. A more detailed management actions table is included for each site which sets out how the site is to managed and who is responsible for each action. In some cases the actions may not be able to be taken forward until funding has been secured or suitable arrangements are in place with suitable local groups/ organisations.

Management Statements are now available for the following sites: 

Basil Green Pond - lies to the eastern edge of Orton Longville Village between the Nene Parkway to the north-east and shelterbelt and housing to the north, west and south. A large pond, it is surrounded by trees and shrubs, and a triangular area of open space lies to the east. It is known to have supported smooth newt in the past and a good assemblage of both aquatic plants (including lesser pondweed and marsh dock) and invertebrates (including emerald damselfly).

Botolph Green Pond - lies at the heart of the development surrounding the Green, off Oundle Road, Orton Longueville The pond lies within a wider area of amenity grassland with an adjacent copse and is managed by the Botolph Green Resident’s Association. The pond which was restored in 2014 supports both great crested and smooth newts. The surrounding copse and grassland have also been enhanced by the residents association.

Cherry Orton Rd Pond - A small pond in Orton Waterville surrounded by areas of woodland and playing fields, it is home to both great crested and smooth newts.

Debdale Pond - lies at the back of Orton Waterville village and dates back hundreds of years as an old field dew pond for watering livestock. The pond has been present on this site for over 120 years; clearly shown on maps dating from 1889. The pond which supports both great crested and smooth newts is surrounded by broad-leafed woodland and was
designated a County Wildlife Site in 1994.

Melrose Drive Balancing Pond - was created in the late 1980s as part of the neighbouring housing development, the balancing pond served as a storm water storage area. The site consists of the lower-lying pond and marsh areas, with steep banks leading up to the higher path and surrounding land. It supports areas of Reedmace Fen and Grey Club-rush with a good breeding colony of common frog.

Holywell Ponds - contains a series of eight of the best preserved mediaeval fish ponds in the Peterborough area which used to form part of the estate of Thorpe Hall. Modified over the years, they are fed by a natural spring which emerges from a small grotto, the resulting water flowing from one pond to another. The ponds supporting smooth newt and common frog) have been present on this site for over 120 years, clearly shown on maps dating from 1892. The area also contains semi-natural and planted broadleaved woodland, semi- improved grassland and swamp – in total just over 3.5 hectares, and was designated a County Wildlife Site (CWS) in 1992. The area is bounded by Thorpe Hall hospice to the east, Longthorpe Parkway to the south and housing to the north and west.

Peterborough Rd pond - forms part of the Stanground Newt Ponds County Wildlife Site complex. It is one of three long-established field ponds which, collectively, support a large population of great crested newts. It is bordered by housing to the north, west and east, and Peterborough Road to the south. Restoration work carried out in 2016 has transformed the area, with the pond cleared and re-profiled and open to light.

Tenterhill Recreation Ground Pond - lies to the south of Stanground Wash SSSI on the southern bank of the River Nene back water. Created in 2009, it has been colonised successfully by a good range of invertebrates, making it a candidate for County Wildlife Site status. A recent lack of management has resulted in the pond being almost completely dry, with large stands of reed sweet-grass, common reed-mace and common reed.