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The Act is primarily intended to implement key aspects of the Government's Rural Strategy and addresses issues relating to the natural environment. The Act establishes an independent body - Natural England - responsible for conserving, enhancing and managing England's natural environment for the benefit of current and future generations. Natural England brings together the functions of English Nature and certain functions currently performed by the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service (a Defra Directorate). The Act also establishes the Commission for Rural Communities ("the Commission"). The Commission will be an independent advocate, watchdog and expert adviser for rural England, with a particular focus on people suffering from social disadvantage and areas suffering from economic under-performance. The Act also reconstitutes the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and renames and reconstitutes the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council (which becomes the Inland Waterways Advisory Council). The Act makes provision in respect of biodiversity, pesticides harmful to wildlife and the protection of birds, and in respect of invasive non-native species. It alters enforcement powers in connection with wildlife protection, and extends time limits for prosecuting certain wildlife offences. It addresses a small number of gaps and uncertainties in relation to the law on sites of special scientific interest. And it amends the functions and constitution of National Park authorities, the functions of the Broads Authority and the law on rights of way.
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