Garden Ponds and the Law

Newt taken by Nic via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

You may already have a garden pond or perhaps you are thinking of building one. Either way, there are several laws that you should be aware of as they may affect your plans and what you are legally able to do in the future.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

There is nothing which will attract wildlife to your garden quicker than a pond. Your installation will help native species to prosper and will enable you to view a wonderful array of animal life. However, certain species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This includes:

• The Common Frog
• The Common Toad
• The Natterjack Toad
• Some species of Newts
• Burbot
• Some species of Goby
• Northern Hatchet Shell
• Marine Hydroid
• Trembling Sea Mat
• Some species of Snails

European Common Frog by Daveleicuk via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
European Common Frog by Daveleicuk via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

It is a criminal offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any of the protected animals. This means that you cannot take these species from the wild and place them in your pond. Neither can you move them between ponds if you are constructing a new pond in your garden.

It is also a criminal offence, under the Act, subject to certain exceptions, to intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy any structure or location which an animal, which is protected under the Act, uses for shelter. You are also prohibited form disturbing the animals or obstructing their access to such structures and locations. Here the law may prevent you from filling in an old pond if you no longer wish to feature a pond in your garden or if you are creating a new one to replace it.

Under the act it is also an offence, again with certain exceptions, to release or allow to escape into the wild, certain species identified by the act or any animal which is not native to Great Britain or a regular visitor to the country in the wild.

The Abandonment of Animals Act 1960

It is a criminal offence, under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960, for the keeper of an animal, without reasonable cause, to abandon that animal in any circumstances likely to cause it unnecessary suffering. It is also a criminal offence for an owner of any animal to allow it to be abandoned. This law should be borne in mind if you keep fish and no longer want them. You have a duty of care to the animals and must find suitable homes for them.

Hosepipe Bans

Hosepipe via Pexels
Hosepipe via Pexels (CC0 1.0)

Local or national hosepipe bans will almost certainly mean that you will not be able to fill or top up your pond using a hosepipe. Defying the ban could result in prosecution and a fine.

Safety issues

If you have a pond then you are responsible for ensuring that it does not represent a hazard to people who visit your property.

Escape of Water

If your pond leaks water onto neighbouring land you will be responsible for any damage or loss suffered as a consequence of the leak.

 

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