This responsibility is vested with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in England, in Wales and Scotland the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive respectively. In addition these departments have to develop national planning policy guidance within which local authorities have to function (British Geological Survey, n.d.).
The endeavour of the Planning Practice Standard is to develop the environmental impact assessment, EIA, as a planning tool in order to promote the objectives of town and country planning. "This PPS updates the RTPI Practice Advice Note 13, published in 1995, to reflect the requirements of the amended EIA Regulations, which came into effect in 1999". In order to implement the European Directive 85/337/EEC, as amended by the Directive 97/11/EC, legislation on environmental impact assessment has been introduced in the UK. Section 71A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, contains the requirement to carry out EIA of certain planning proposals. (The Royal Town Planning Institute, 2001).
The use of land determines irrevocably the fate of natural and semi-natural ecosystems and consequently, sustainable development is ably assisted by Nature conservation policies and their relations with land use exemplify the importance being accorded to planning. This process makes it essential to establish fundamental links between developments in particular localities and environmental changes on a world - wide basis.
This methodology requires the adoption of a strategic approach to the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity (Cowell and Owens 2002). The basic human responsibility to protect and improve the environment for the benefit of present and future generations was expressed on the global level as early as 1972, in principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration, but the Aarhus Convention is the first international legal instrument to extend this concept to a set of legal obligations (Stec and Casey - Lefkowitz 2000).
Land-use planning is concerned not only with site protection but of late; it is proving of immense relevance in the adoption of a proactively strategic approach to the conservation of nature. This approach must not only concentrate on preservation of what has survived but more importantly, it has to address itself to the problem of habitat restoration and enhancement. In the UK this change is visible in legislation and in the guidance being provided to the local planning authorities from government, statutory agencies and non-governmental organisations, for ensuring the protection of the biodiversity. Planning and nature conservation policy have been influenced to a great extent by the latest interpretations of sustainable development, especially those which involve the concepts of environmental capital and capacity. The role of land use planning has been highlighted by European legislation and in particular the Habitats Directive, which aims to conserve European species and habitats. This Directive, enjoins upon national governments the requirement to nominate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), which are to be provided with stringent protection.
That there are limitations to this approach is borne out by the fact that, despite their protected status, many sites have been lost or damaged as a result of land-use change. The major culprit in this aspect has been development as defined in town and country planning legislation, which has