The Group's aim is to identify, survey, protect and promote geological and geomorphological sites in the former County of Avon - the modern unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. RIGS are selected for their educational, research, historical and aesthetic value.

What are RIGS?

RIGS are Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites 

In England, RIGS are now officially referred to as "Local Geological Sites"

RIGS are part of the hierarchy of how natural heritage, specifically geology, is defined and preserved. They are designated by local groups using the following nationally developed criteria:
  • The value of a site for educational purposes in life-long learning
  • The value of a site for study by both amateur and professional Earth Scientists
  • The historical value of a site in terms of important advances in Earth Science knowledge, events or human exploitation
  • The aesthetic value of a site in the landscape, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth Sciences.
Source: Natural England

RIGS is a non-statutory designation. This means that the site doesn’t have any legal standing but is protected from development that would cause damage to a RIGS unless the importance of the work is considered to outweigh the value of the affected RIGS, in which case measures will be taken to minimise and offset the impact on the outcrop.

Sites of national importance are designated as SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest), a status that offers greater legal protection. A site may be a both a RIGS and an SSSI (eg. Aust Cliff).

The designation of local sites as RIGS is one way of recognising and protecting important Earth science and landscape features for future generations to enjoy.

More info:
GeoConservationUK - The Association of UK RIGS Groups

The new GeoConservationUK leaflet - click on image to increase size