Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside

The Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC) was established in 1989 under the provisions of the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1989. Its statutory role is also covered by the provisions of The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002.

How is the council made up?

At present it has 10 members with a wide range of environmental expertise and experience throughout Northern Ireland and further afield. Its role as statutory advisor is to advise the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on matters affecting nature conservation and the countryside. Council also offers advice relevant to its remit to other government departments such as Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure and is represented on other groups and working parties. Much of the Council's advice is channelled through NIEA and Planning NI.

Statutory Roles

The Council's functions include the following:

  • to advise the Department on matters relating to nature conservation
  • to enquire into and report on matters affecting the natural beauty or amenity of any place in Northern Ireland
  • to advise the Department on the establishment and management of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) and nature reserves
  • to advise the Minister on the establishment and management of Marine Nature Reserves
  • to advise the Department on the protection of wildlife species
  • to advise on payment of certain types of grants  (under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1989
  • to advise on promotional and educational activities

Council is also consulted on Planning Policy Statements, Development Plans and planning applications, however, it should be noted that no planning decisions are made by the Council.


The Council normally meets bi-monthly with additional ad hoc meetings to consider specific policy issues.  The Council can undertake field visits and these have often focused on designation, protection and management of sites of nature conservation value.


Council has a number of representatives who sit on other bodies associated with environmental issues. These bodies are mostly associated with government Departments and a few relate to EU structural funds. Council is also represented on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) which is the statutory advisor to Government on nature conservation for the UK and its overseas territories. More information about the work of JNCC can be found at the link below.


Membership is sought through public advertisement and appointments are made by the DAERA Minister. The appointment process follows the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s (CPANI) Code of Practice which means that it is based on a fair, open and transparent process that involves independent scrutiny. The term of appointment is for a three year period. Reappointment for a second three year term may be considered subject to satisfactory performance during the initial term. Appointments for the same position are restricted to two terms. Those who have served two appointment terms on a Board are ineligible to apply for the same position.

Working Groups

The Council has the power to set up working groups to consider issues in more detai for example, the Marine and Coastal Working Group was established to consider the many issues of marine conservation and has resulted in the production of papers.  The nature and duration of a working group is determined by the matter it deals with and Council has the power to temporarily co-opt individual experts to working groups. The Marine and Coastal Working Group consists of five members, two co-opted members and representatives from the  Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group within DAERAand meets on an ad hoc basis.

For further information please contact CNCC Secretariat.

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