Lawyers back control orders for invasive species

7th March 2014


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Agriculture

Author

George Harper

The Law Commission is advocating the introduction of control orders to manage invasive non-native species as part of its proposals to simplify and modernise the law on protecting and managing wildlife in England and Wales

The proposal, which is similar to that introduced in Scotland by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, will enable the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, among other bodies, to make a species control agreement with, or species control order against, the occupier of land or premises.

The commission says such a move should ensure the eradication or control of an animal or plant that is likely to have a significant adverse impact on biodiversity or another environmental, social or economic interest.

The commission explains that the agency, for example, should first offer a species control agreement to the owner or occupier of the land or premises in question. Only when an agreement proves impractical or is not being properly performed should an order be imposed.

In most cases, the law does not allow those charged with the management and control of wildlife to enter privately owned land or premises to carry out operations to manage or eradicate invasive non-native species without consent. However, the proposed change provides powers of entry to enable regulators to investigate or monitor a site, or to allow an order to be carried out.

The impact assessment accompanying the recommendation estimates the financial benefit of introducing control agreements or orders will total £91.6 million through the avoidance of costs in managing or eradicating invasive non-native species, such as damage to property. It also suggests that the change will reduce the potential for considerable damage to biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services, particularly those services needed for critical infrastructure, such as watercourses.

There are around 1,900 non-native species in Great Britain. Of these, 109 plants and 173 animals are considered to have a negative ecological or human impact. The annual cost of such species to the economy is estimated at £1.3 billion in England and £125 million in Wales.

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