Is Natural England reluctant to prosecute rule breakers?

Since it was created in 2006 out of what was English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service, Natural England has brought less than 100 enforcement actions for breaches of wildlife laws – that’s an average of about seven every year.

These include 16 civil sanctions for offences ranging from the unconsented removal of hedgerows to the killing of a juvenile lesser black-backed gull, both within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); 65 enforcement undertakings, which (for example) required one landowner to restore a grassland after illegally ploughing and cultivating it and another to install peat dams to repair a blanket bog damaged by vehicle use; and 14 prosecutions, which included one following the installation of a via ferrata and zip wire at Honister Crag in the Lake District. 

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