Natural environment

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 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).

Green Grid Strategy 2007

Size: 26.07 MB File format: pdf

Green Grid Project List

Size: 215.80 KB File format: pdf

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.

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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.

Country Wildlife Sites handbook

Size: 1.61 MB File format: pdf

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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