What was the legacy of the Protection of Birds Act, 1954 ?

Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981  

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1981/c69

The Protection of Birds Act, 1954 was a significant moment in the development of legislation to protect wild birds and their habitats. Having secured the passage of the Act through Parliament, Tufton Beamish did not cease to pursue further developments in the law. In 1967, he procured an amendment to the law in a new Act.

Part of the Protection of Birds Act, 1954 remains in force today. Under the Act, it is still illegal to

  • kill, injure or take, or attempt to kill, injure or take, any wild bird; or
  • take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use; or
  • take or destroy an egg of any wild bird.

The law remains an important method of protection of wild birds and their original habitats.

Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981

In 1980 and 1981 Tufton Beamish fought successfully for the Wildlife and Countryside Act in the House of Lords. This Act, also still in force today, gives protection to native species (especially those at threat), controls the release of non-native species, and builds upon the rights of way rules in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949). Speaking about the bill during its second reading in the House, Beamish said

"We must get across to the whole Government that nature conservation is a positive objective and not just one of several conflicting considerations or options. I hope this Bill and the debates on it during its passage through both Houses will bring home to everyone the importance of finding better ways of managing our natural resources. Town and country, farmers and naturalists, we are all in it together. Provided there is unstinted cooperation between all Ministers whose responsibilities touch on any aspect of this many-sided subject, there will be no problem in proving that good husbandry and higher material standards of living are consistent with careful protection of our wildlife and our countryside."

Related information

The De Montfort Project is an outreach project run by the Parliamentary Archives which explores the life and impact of local MPs and Peers on both their local area and at Parliament.