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Natural Environment White Paper - UK Environmental Law Association initial response

Jun 07, 2011

Further information
Wyn Jones

The first Natural Environment White Paper for 20 years is welcomed by the UK Environmental Law Association, which says the proposed new initiatives could make a valuable contribution towards addressing biodiversity loss in England.

The new initiatives of Nature Improvement Areas, Biodiversity offsetting, Local Nature Partnerships and Green Area Designations are all measures that have the potential to make positive contributions to support and safeguard the existing network of protected areas. They have the potential to increase biodiversity and make it more robust to address the impacts of climate change.

However, the White Paper does not contain sufficient detail to explain how they will be established or function which makes it difficult to appreciate their full effectiveness. The reliance on a voluntary local approach, which would use the existing policy and legal framework, further adds to the uncertainty. To ensure that the initiatives are as effective as possible a national strategic framework is necessary to inform decisions. UKELA also takes the view that to ensure long term sustainable benefits the mechanisms should be underpinned by legislation and robust policy.

For example, Biodiversity Offsetting could make a valuable contribution towards Biodiversity Action Plans, support the existing network of protected areas and address the impacts of climate change. Currently the law requires developers and others to provide compensatory habitat for their impacts only on certain lists of species and habitats. However, outside these legal frameworks and therefore for the majority of biodiversity, there is no legal requirement at present to require developers to first mitigate, and then where mitigation is not possible, to compensate for their impacts, These requirements have already existed in policy (PPS 9) for many years and yet biodiversity continues to decline.

Notes to the editors:

For further information please contact the convenor of UKELA's Nature Conservation Working Party, Wyn Jones: wyn.jones@virgin.net

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
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