Natural England - Local Sites

Local Sites

Local Sites are non-statutory areas of local importance for nature conservation that complement nationally and internationally designated geological and wildlife sites.

King’s Dyke RIGS, near Peterborough, a local geological site

Local Geological Sites

The term Local Geological Site (previously Regionally Important Geological/geological Site (RIGS)), as recommended in the Defra Local Sites Guidance below, is now widely adopted.

Local Geological Sites are selected by voluntary geoconservation groups, such as RIGS Groupsexternal link and Geology Trustsexternal link, which are generally formed by county or unitary authority area in England.

How are Local Geological Sites selected?

The sites are selected on a local basis according to the following nationally agreed criteria:

  • The value of a site for educational purposes in life-long learning

  • The value of a site for study by both amateur and professional Earth scientists

  • The historical value of a site in terms of important advances in Earth science knowledge, events or human exploitation

  • The aesthetic value of a site in the landscape, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth sciences.

Local Wildlife Sites

There are currently a number of different terms in use to describe Local Wildlife Sites, including Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCIs) and County Wildlife Sites.

Local Wildlife Sites are usually selected within a local authority area and this process is often managed by the local Wildlife Trust together with representatives of the local authority and other local wildlife conservation groups. They support both locally and nationally threatened wildlife, and many sites will contain habitats and species that are priorities under the county or UK Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP).

Local sites guidance

Local Sites (GOV.UK) provides general guidance on the overall Local Site process.

Local Sites are afforded protection through the Local Planning System and Biodiversity and geological conservation: circular 06/2005 emphasises the importance of their recognition within Local Development Frameworks.

Alongside this, reporting on the management of Local Sites contributes to the Single Data List, specifically Local nature conservation/biodiversity (reference 160-00).