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Clearer guidance on wildlife protection welcomed

Mar 22, 2012

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

The UK Environmental Law Association welcomes the Government’s proposals following their review of the implementation of the EC Habitats and Wild Birds Directives in England. The measures should improve understanding, transparency and achieve greater consistency in how they work in practice.

The Directives require the application of rigorous tests to protect wildlife and habitats of European importance and these provisions do not appear to have been compromised. The processes for management and protection are complex but do not preclude damaging activities being progressed, only ensuring that checks and balances are in place to identify and avoid unnecessary impacts on wildlife and habitats.

A major change is the establishment of the National Infrastructure and Environment Unit in April to advise and support the consideration of large and contentious projects affecting wildlife and habitats of European importance.

The provision of much needed new guidance (promised later in the year following consultation) aims to make the provisions more accessible and will improve understanding and consistent application. UKELA’s review of the State of Environmental Law (still in progress – interim report published in 2011) makes it clear that the law can’t work for a better environment without clarity being improved and highlighted difficulties with wildlife law and planning legislation.

UKELA welcomes other measures which include:

· a new approach to producing conservation objectives for Natura 2000 sites

· requesting the Law Commission to consider the right of appeal when an application for a European Protected Species licence is refused (this was recommended by UKELA)

· establishing a number of developer / NGO groups to improve communications and information.

· improving guidance for evidence and improving the collection of wildlife data, including the establishment of a new Marine Evidence Group

· development of professional standards for ecologists.

UKELA’s submission to the review

Defra’s review

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