Habitats legislation gets all-clear

13th April 2012

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  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • UK government



A review of UK legislation implementing the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives has found that in the majority of cases the law is working well, allowing development of key infrastructure and ensuring that a high level of environmental protection is maintained

In his autumn statement, the chancellor launched the review of the regulations, stating that he would ensure that the “gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses”.

The outcome of the Defra-led review suggests that there is little domestic elaboration of either the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) or the Wild Birds Directive (2009/147/EC).

The environment department discovered only “relatively few” cases where the regulations were causing delays or additional costs for developers. It also reports that where problems have occurred this was often due to a lack of clear guidance on certain key areas of the planning process.

To help prevent potential future difficulties, Defra plans to publish revised guidance on the implementation of the Directives and create a major infrastructure and environment unit to support the delivery of important national infrastructure projects.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said the aim of the new guidance is to ensure the UK implementing regulations continue to provide effective protection for 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,” she commented.

Carol Day, solicitor at WWF UK, said Defra’s findings showed the chancellor’s assertions were false. “Not only were his claims that environmental regulations are a burden on business unhelpful, they were completely wrong.”

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