Habitat Directive works well, says Defra review

22nd March 2012


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Water ,
  • Transport ,
  • Retail and wholesale ,
  • Local government ,
  • Public sector

Author

IEMA

The Habitats and Wild Birds Directives do not hamper the vast majority of development projects according to Defra, but greater collaboration between government agencies and clearer guidance is still needed

Following the chancellor’s 2011 autumn statement, in which he warned that “gold-plating” EU environmental legislation could place ridiculous costs on businesses and impede the country’s economic growth, Defra has published a review into how the Directives are implemented in England.

The four-month assessment examined the experiences of developers, regulators, local authorities and environmental charities, in projects affected by the regulations and concludes: “in the large majority of cases the implementation of the Directives is working well, allowing both development of key infrastructure and ensuring that a high level of environmental protection is maintained”.

However, it goes on to say that in a “relatively few” cases delays can arise and developers incur additional costs, often due to a lack of clear guidance on certain key areas of the planning permission process. Examples include the guidance on what constitutes a “reasonable” level of information on which to take a decision and on the assessment of likely significant effects.

In addition to pledging to publish a new overarching guidance manual for stakeholders on the implementation of the Directives in the next 12 months, Defra is to introduce new standards outlining the range and quality of evidence needed by relevant bodies, such as the Environment Agency (EA), Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation, in order to provide advice.

The greater sharing of information will also play a key role in improving the consistency of decision making across the bodies and at local authority level, says Defra. More collaboration and coordination between the agencies is to be encouraged, with the environment department committed to publishing advice on when authorities should be able to accept the conclusions of another authority by June. The EA will also be publishing information about the risks to protected sites posed by the activities it regulates.

The review outlines the government’s plans to create a major infrastructure and environment unit (MUIE) in the next six weeks, to help ensure the successful delivery of UK’s 40 most important national infrastructure projects.

“[The MUIE] will improve identification, and support resolution, of issues associated with the Directives for those projects at the pre-application stage. This will help facilitate key infrastructure development, consistent with the principles of sustainable development,” the review states.

Commenting on the report, environment secretary Caroline Spelman said: “I strongly support the aims of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives, and I have said all along that I want them to continue to be effective in protecting important wildlife sites. Central to that is ensuring that we maintain their integrity, and the best way of doing that is to make it as simple as possible for people to comply with them.

“The action we are taking will make it clearer for developers to understand how to comply with the Directive, and will ensure that our wildlife still receives the high level of protection it deserves.”

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Four in five shoppers willing to pay ‘sustainability premium’

Despite cost-of-living concerns, four-fifths of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced or sourced goods, a global survey has found.

16th May 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Each person in the UK throws a shocking 35 items of unwanted clothes and textiles into general waste every year on average, according to a new report from WRAP.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close