EU nature laws should stay, UK says

17th December 2015


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Management ,
  • Auditing ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity

Author

IEMA

The government does not support renegotiation of the EU birds and habitat directives, environment minister Rory Stewart revealed yesterday.

Speaking at a debate about the future of nature protection at a EU environment council meeting, Stewart said that the directives needed better implementation rather than review. Campaign groups had previously feared that the government was in favour of watering the laws down. The statement at yesterday's meeting was the first time the government had publically supported the directives amid a review by the European commission.

Stewart told the council meeting: "Biodiversity is absolutely at the core of our society, our economy and of course is valuable in and of itself."

The consensus from a debate in the council on the laws is that most member states did not support opening the directives up for renegotiation and recognised that problems with them usually came from how they were implemented, according to Sandra Bell, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

This supports the findings of a report analysing responses to the commission's consultation, published in November. It revealed that both businesses and environmental groups shared the view that any "burdens" caused by the directives are due by inefficient implementation at national, regional and local level.

The EU's biodiversity strategy aims to halt any loss by 2020, and includes a target to fully implement the birds and habitats directives. The mid-term review of the strategy concluded that there had been "no overall progress" in halting biodiversity loss, and urged "considerably bolder and more ambitious" enforcement efforts.

The final decision on whether the directives will be changed will be made in 2016.

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