A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.
Monday 19 March
What will Wednesday's budget hold for wildlife and the
The first pre-budget statements:
Chancellor, a healthy economy needs a healthy environment - RSPB
The following statement is issued jointly by Avon Wildlife Trust,
Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Somerset Wildlife
Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Devon Wildlife
Trust, and the RSPB
Wildlife charities with a combined membership of over a quarter of a
million people in the south west have today called on the Chancellor, George
Osborne MP, to put the region’s rich and iconic nature at the heart of
economic development in the run up to what could be one of the most
important budgets for the environment in decades.
In his Autumn Statement 2011, the Chancellor George Osborne announced a
review of the way that two important pieces of European wildlife law are put
into practice in England. A weakening of these laws could see such iconic
landscapes as Salisbury Plain, the Lizard, Dartmoor, the Severn Estuary and
Poole Harbour, and the rich wildlife they support, at risk from
The Habitats and Birds Directives have provided valuable protection for
Europe's most threatened habitats and species for over 30 years; they are
arguably the two most important mechanisms for embedding the value of nature
And from the Wildlife Trusts:
Society has spoken out repeatedly against policies that put short-term
profit ahead of our countryside and wildlife, eroding our natural capital
and quality of life. The budget next week (21 March 2012) will show
whether the Government has chosen to listen.
It will test whether the Government is still at odds with itself as it
was in the pre budget statement. We are unclear which side of its
personality it will express.
On the one hand its Natural Environment
White Paper (June 2011) states that it “wants this to be the first
generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it
inherited”, a statement which we wholeheartedly support. This point is
further reinforced by the National Ecosystem Assessment, (also June 2011),
which states that “the natural world, its biodiversity and its constituent
ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic
prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in conventional economic
analyses and decision-making.”
These economic benefits include supporting the natural processes we rely
on, such as flood management, cleaning our water, storing carbon and
regenerating urban areas. Management of sites provides jobs, and the
tourists they attract can boost local economies. Further benefits to people
include recreational opportunities, with studies consistently showing access
to nature improves health and wellbeing.
On the other hand Government is
pressing forward with new road building and priming the scene for more
development with less planning control and even fewer environmental
regulations, all in the name of growth. Comments made in the Autumn
Statement on the Habitats Regulations, the ‘red-tape challenge’ and the
ill-conceived planning reforms, show an out-of-date approach casting
regulation and the environment as enemies to growth.
Since the Chancellor suggested ‘gold plating’ of European Regulations is
hindering development, we have had to devote considerable charitable
resources to participating in the review of the implementation of the
Habitats and Wild Birds Directives.
People’s views sought on future governance of national parks - Peak
District National Park
The Government is proposing changes to the way national park authorities
are governed in order to increase local accountability – and it wants to
hear people’s views.
At present, the Peak District National Park Authority is governed by 30
members, 16 of whom are councillors appointed by all the local authorities
within the national park. Six are parish councillors elected by their peers
but officially appointed by the Secretary of State, and eight are appointed
directly by the Secretary of State for their specialist knowledge of
national park issues.
The proposals from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra) would involve changes in the law to:
- make it possible for national park authorities to include some
directly elected members
- remove the need for the Secretary of State to appoint the parish
- relax the political balance requirement on local authorities when
appointing their members to a national park authority
- make it possible to allow parishes in subsequently specified
national parks to choose non-councillors for their seats
- apply a maximum length of service for members of eight years.
Peak District National Park Authority chief executive Jim Dixon said:
“These would be important changes in the way decisions are made about the
national park and I hope as many local people as possible will take
advantage of the consultation to give their views.”
Read more on the defra site here:
Changes to National Park governance
Consultation start: 8 March 2012 and end: 31 May 2012
The Government’s commitment to “…review the governance arrangements of
National Parks in order to increase local accountability” was honoured by a
public consultation which closed on 1 February 2011. The outcome of the
review was a wide range of improvements in the way that National Park
This consultation invites views on the proposed amendment of primary
legislation, through use of a Public Bodies Act Order, to implement five
Fish, birds, water voles and newts could all face damaging drought impacts
– says Environment Agency.
The traditional summer scene of dragonflies skimming over a glistening
stream could be a rare sight in parts of England this year as the widespread
drought begins to take its toll on the nation’s wildlife. Dragonflies, warns
the Environment Agency, are just one of the species that will be severely
affected if the drought continues - along with water voles, great crested
newts, and wading birds such as curlews and lapwings.
The Environment Agency will this week announce new measures to help
protect nationally important wildlife sites. They will help wetland managers
to maintain water levels in nationally important wetland sites during
drought while protecting other licence holders. They include provisions to
extend the licence season, make use of unused licensed water, or allowing
higher pumping rates to capture water during any rainfall periods that
Some parts of the country have seen the driest 18 months since records
began, and in drought affected areas it is likely that some streams, ponds
and shallow lakes will be completely dry before aquatic insects like
dragonflies are fully formed, and the insects will consequently perish.
Newly hatched tadpoles from toads and frogs, as well as from protected great
crested newts, face a similar fate.
Birds will also suffer as suitable wetland breeding sites for wading
birds dry up. Waders such as Snipe, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew and
Black-tailed Godwit all need moist soils to probe with their long bills to
extract food such as worms to feed themselves and their young. These species
have declined rapidly in much of England in recent decades and this spring
drought could be the final straw in some of the smaller breeding sites.
The Environment Agency has already seen a number of fish deaths this year
caused by dry weather, and is stepping up river monitoring and increasing
its supplies of water aeration and fish rescue equipment in order to respond
quickly to reports of distressed fish.
Woodland Carbon Code is a million-tonne winner - Forestry Commission
Efforts to boost British forests’ contribution to tackling climate change
reached a key milestone this week. The amount of carbon dioxide predicted to
be removed from the atmosphere by woodland planting projects registered
under the new Woodland Carbon Code has passed 1 million tonnes.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common of the greenhouse gases causing
the atmospheric warming that is changing the Earth’s climate. Growing trees
sequester, or remove, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and this has
encouraged increasing numbers of people and organisations to seek
opportunities to plant trees as a contribution to tackling climate change.
This demand has stimulated a commercial interest in promoting ‘carbon
forestry’ projects, and the Woodland Carbon Code is a set of standards to
ensure that such projects really do deliver the carbon benefits that their
Woodland Trust halfway to creating England's largest new native forest
Saturday 17 March saw the 300,000th tree planted at the Woodland Trust's
Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire. Several hundred volunteers turned up to
mark the halfway point of the tree planting programme at what will become
England's largest new native woodland, covering over 850 acres.
Every single tree being planted on site is being done so by a volunteer,
with over 25,000 people having already helped out during the course of the
last two and a half years since planting began. Volunteers have included
local people, companies such as Disney Store UK, HRH Princess Beatrice and
the Woodland Trust President Clive Anderson.
Louise Neicho, site manager
for Heartwood Forest said: "To plant 300,000 trees is a phenomenal
achievement, even more so when all of them are being planted by volunteers.
To be a part of creating such a huge woodland which will hopefully be around
for centuries to come is something everyone can feel proud of. The Woodland
Trust's aim is to double native woodland cover across the UK and projects
such as this highlight the scale of what we can achieve with public
Clive Anderson, Woodland Trust President added: "I have
visited Heartwood Forest on several occasions and planted trees myself there
in the company of a wide range of community groups and enthusiasts. So I
have witnessed the transformation that is taking place on Heartwood’s many
acres. A project of this stature shows the scale of the Woodland Trust's
ambition and achievement."
Tuesday 20 March
Environment protected and business boosted by cutting unnecessary red tape
Environmental regulations will be made simpler and more effective while
remaining as strong as ever following a review of red tape, Environment
Secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.
Simpler and smarter environment regulations will provide savings to
businesses of more than £1billion over five years and protect the
environment by being cheaper and easier for companies to follow while
enforcement will be targeted at companies that are not abiding by the rules.
Announcing the results of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge environment
theme, Mrs Spelman said: “I want to be very clear that this is not about
rolling back environmental safeguards, nor is it just about cutting
regulation to stimulate growth. We’ve always said that we were going to keep
the vitally important protection our environment needs. This was about
getting better rules, not weaker ones. The results of the Red Tape Challenge
will be good for the environment and good for business, because as well as
upholding environmental protection we will remove unnecessary bureaucracy to
allow businesses to free up resources to invest in growth. We’re making it
easier for people to do the right thing, by making rules clearer and by
getting rid of old, unworkable regulations. This is a prime example of how
we can help grow a green economy whilst looking after our natural
Download the proposal document here (pdf).
Or look at the
Environment landing page on the Red Tape Challenge website.
Submit your comments here.
Biodiversity, wildlife management, landscape, countryside and recreation
These regulations aim to conserve vulnerable or rare species, habitats
and wildlife sites. They also control access to footpaths and national
They include provisions on fishing activities; invasive non-native
species; protection of native species; traps; trade in endangered species;
zoo licensing; dangerous wild animals; game; selling dead wild birds;
registering and ringing captive birds; wildfowling restrictions; national
park authorities; common land; rights of way; areas of outstanding beauty;
and pest control.
You can find all 163 regulations that relate to biodiversity, wildlife
management, landscape, countryside and recreation via this page.
Govt red tape slashing is an attack on the countryside - Ramblers
Today’s (19 March) government announcement to cut environmental ‘red
tape’ is another attack on the countryside and people’s ability to access
and enjoy it – says Ramblers.
The Ramblers fears that today’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ announcement will
mean that people will be charged for trying to open up footpaths for the
public to enjoy, make it easier for people to build on, fence off or dig up
common land and dampen the dream of an English coastal path.
The government is scrapping or simplifying a swathe of environmental
regulations under the banner of cutting ‘red tape’ – including laws designed
to protect the countryside. By introducing costs for people who wish to open
up a footpath, the government will prohibit normal people from being able to
protect access to the countryside and the places they love to walk.
Proposals to ‘deregulate’ the works allowed on common land would put more
than 400,000 hectares¹ of English countryside at risk, including some of our
most treasured communal green spaces such as Mitcham Common, Cambridge’s
Midsummer Common and commons in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural
The Ramblers is hugely concerned that today’s announcement, coupled with
the proposed changes in planning laws, shifts the balance from protecting
the countryside to one in favour of development. At a time when the public
has shown it’s appreciation of our green and pleasant land, today’s
announcement threatens the very nature of the English countryside.
Slashing of environment 'red tape' is far from over
Damian Carrington's blog on The Guardian: Almost three-quarters of green
regulation is affected by the cuts confirmed on Monday, but work is underway
on a further 'significant rationalisation of guidance'
Review of the Scientific Evidence base for the Eradication of Bovine TB in
- Welsh Government
Environment Minister John Griffiths has announced a new Strategic
Framework for Bovine TB Eradication covering the next 4 years. This includes
a project to vaccinate badgers as part of its work to eradicate bovine TB
from cattle in Wales.
Extract from the Minister's statement:
The report of the review of the evidence base regarding the eradication
of bovine TB in Wales, together with a considerable amount of work led by my
Chief Veterinary Officer, has led to this Strategic Framework for Bovine TB
Eradication covering the next 4 years.
The Strategy acknowledges that in building on the cattle control and
biosecurity measures; we must deal with all sources of bovine TB, including
in wildlife, if we are going to achieve our goal of eradicating this
debilitating disease within the Intensive Action Area and from Wales.
For this reason, I have considered a range of options including whether
culling or vaccination of badgers is appropriate.
After careful consideration I have decided to pursue a badger vaccination
I have asked my Chief Veterinary Officer to design the project to begin
in the Intensive Action Area this summer and continue for five years. I have
also asked her to consider other geographical areas where vaccination could
also contribute to TB eradication. My intention is that the projects are
developed to ensure that the potential effect can be monitored with a view
to assessing impact.
Full statement (pdf)
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust given green light by Heritage Lottery Fund for
Spurn lighthouse - Credit Les Stubbs
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has received initial support* from the Heritage
Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Spurn’s Communities Along the Sand project, it
was announced today.
The project aims to restore and open to the public the Grade II listed
lighthouse, and conserve and interpret, for the visitor and the local
community alike, the biodiversity and habitats of Spurn National Nature
Development funding of £68,600 has also been awarded to help
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a
The project will reveal the historic heritage of the National
Nature Reserve and its close links to the Spurn, Kilnsea and Easington
community. A new Heritage Officer will be appointed this year for a 9
month period, who will set up workshops open to the public. These will
explore the sensitivity and richness of Spurn’s habitats and history, in the
context of rising sea levels and a warming climate, and will show how the UK
plans to mitigate the effects of climate change, with the help of renewable
energy and the replacement of coal by natural gas, two very important local
New disease threat to sweet chestnut trees found in orchards
- Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission and The Food and Environment Research Agency
(Fera) are working to eradicate outbreaks of a serious new disease
affecting sweet chestnut trees in southern and central England.
Chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica (C.
parasitica), has been confirmed by Forestry Commission scientists in two
small orchards of European sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) sourced from the
same nursery in France. The sites in Warwickshire and East Sussex are the
first findings in Britain, although the disease has spread throughout much
of Europe since it was first discovered in Italy in the 1930s.
Dr John Morgan, Head of the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service,
“It is very disappointing to discover this disease has been introduced
into these orchards in England. It represents a serious threat to our sweet
chestnut woodlands, so we are taking steps to eradicate it before it spreads
into woodland trees or other plantations.
Wednesday 22 March
First budget responses, more to follow:
Budget response: misguided planning rhetoric and a potential airport
disaster - CPRE
Responding to today's Budget statement CPRE condemned the Chancellor's
rhetoric on planning as misguided and dangerous. The group also expressed
deep concerns about the Government’s transport strategy and the suggestion
that it is going soft on airport expansion in the South East.
Adam Royle, spokesman for CPRE, says: “We heard yet more of the Chancellor's
misguided and dangerous rhetoric on planning today. If the Government
undermines sound planning, it will put sustainable economic growth at risk.
Countries like Germany show that good economic performance and strong
planning systems can go hand in hand. We will have to wait until next
Tuesday when the final planning framework is to be published to see if the
voices of reason in Government will yet win out."
Transport: Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner at CPRE, Says: “The
Government seems to be attempting to disguise a major u-turn on South East
airport expansion as an economic aside. After responding to public opinion
by pulling the plug on a third runway at Heathrow, the Government needs to
hold its nerve against the turbulence of vociferous lobbying of the aviation
From the Press:
The Guardian: Budget 2012: green measures at a glance
George Osborne's budget was more positive on pro-environmental rhetoric,
but critics call it a polluters' charter
BBC overview: Green
Government to seek "major savings" in the administrative cost of the
Carbon Reduction Commitment, and bring forward an alternative environment
tax this autumn if such savings cannot be found.
Other news today (yes, there really are things
other than the Budget!)
Over £1.8million to be invested into conservation and celebration of special
Staffordshire landscape - Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
Over £1.8million is to be invested into a project to conserve a
spectacular landscape in the Staffordshire Moorlands and bring a host of
long-term environmental, social and economic benefits.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is awarding the £1.89 million grant to
the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP), towards an
ambitious £3 million programme to protect, enhance and celebrate an area of
over 49,000 acres fringing the Peak District.
Over the last 18 months, the Partnership has produced a Landscape
Conservation Action Plan for the area which consists of long-term
aspirations for the environment and heritage, together with a four-year plan
of community and practical projects.
The partnership will bring a fantastic range benefits such as better
habitat for lapwings and brown hares through wildflower meadow creation.
Woodland will be managed for the benefit of woodland birds, and the wood
will be used to start up a local woodfuel economy. Bridges, and adjacent
towpaths on the Uttoxeter Canal will be restored. Work to restore the
platform and signal box at Leek Brook on the North Staffordshire Railway
will also be a priority. The project will offer much-needed training
opportunities such as rural apprenticeships for disadvantaged young people,
diversification support for businesses and the establishment of a network of
Guy Corbett-Marshall, chairman of CVLLP and chief executive of lead
partner Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are absolutely thrilled at
this fantastic news. With its flower-rich farmland, plunging wooded valleys,
wild rivers and fascinating industrial heritage, the Churnet Valley Living
Landscape area is an extremely special part of Staffordshire and it should
be protected and celebrated.
benefits of peatlands revealed by new inquiry - RSPB
The enormous importance of our peatlands for people and wildlife was
revealed at Parliament Buildings today (20 March 2012) during the launch of
the findings of the IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands.
Peatlands are areas of land formed over thousands of years from
carbon-rich dead and decaying plants in water-logged conditions. This
‘Cinderella’ habitat – overlooked and undervalued – covers less than 3% of
the land surface of the Earth, but contains twice as much carbon as the
world’s forests. Far from the hostile, barren wastelands that peatlands are
often seen as, these stunning landscapes provide irreplaceable ecosystem
Following an 18 month inquiry involving over 300 individuals and 50
organisations the findings present clear evidence of the importance of the
UK’s peatlands as a huge carbon store locking up over 3 billion tonnes in
the peat. Peatlands are also found at the source of around 70% of the
UK’s drinking water and they provide internationally important habitat for
many rare and threatened animals and plants. The great importance of
peatlands as an historic archive is demonstrated in the discovery of Bronze
aged preserved bodies and their unique record of past climate change.
The Inquiry found that much of the UK’s peatlands have been damaged,
largely due to the way they have been managed, and as a result a significant
amount of carbon is leaking into the atmosphere.
Further reactions to yesterday's announcement by
the Welsh Government to cancel plans to cull badgers to try to control bTB.
Badger cull in Wales shelved in favour of vaccination
are absolutely delighted about this decision'
We are delighted that the Welsh Government has decided not to proceed
with plans put forward by the previous government for a badger cull in the
Intensive Action Area and opted for a five-year vaccination programme
The cull had been on hold since June after the Environment
Minister announced that an independent Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) Science
Review Panel would review the scientific evidence.
that bovine TB is a very real issue in some areas, we support the conclusion
of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) that 'badger culling can make no
meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain'. We believe that
there are other measures that could be used to control bovine TB, including
the vaccination programme chosen along with increased cattle control.
RSPCA head of communication, David Bowles, said: We are absolutely
delighted about this decision. We have long believed that a
vaccination programme rather than a badger cull is the right step forward
for controlling bovine TB in cattle both in Wales and in England, and only
hope that the Westminster government is paying close attention to what is
happening across the border."
Badger vaccination to take place in Wales
- Wildlife Trust
of South and West Wales
credit: Jon Bowen
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales welcomes today’s decision by
Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths to pursue vaccination of badgers
in the control of bovine TB this summer.
This decision is supported by the long-term research from the Independent
Scientific Group that identified the culling of badgers would not make a
meaningful contribution in the management of bovine TB.
State funded vaccination of badgers is a progressive approach to disease
control and will be a leading example to the rest of Britain on how this
terrible disease can be eradicated.
Whilst appreciating that some farmers have been through an appalling
experience, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales feels that
vaccination of badgers alongside movement control and appropriate management
will see the end of this awful disease.
One of the main reserves for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales,
Teifi Marshes, was within the area identified for culling where there are
buffalo on the reserve which are subject to TB testing. The Trust is keen to
engage with the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme and will assist in
the implementation of this.
Thursday 22 March
Top Story today:
The Government published the report in to the Review of the Habitats and
Wild Birds Directives
Government announces action to improve implementation of the Habitats and
Wild Birds Directives
A new cross-Government unit is to be set up to help developers deliver
large infrastructure projects that promote sustainable development by
supporting growth and protecting our most valued habitats and species,
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.
The new Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit is one of the key
recommendations to emerge from a review into the way the Habitats and Wild
Birds Directives are being applied in England.
There will also be new guidance published which will explain in much
clearer terms what needs to be done to comply with the Directives. The new
streamlined guidance will be easier for both developers and regulators to
The Review focused on the processes within the Directives that most
affect businesses. It made recommendations which will reduce the burden on
business while maintaining, and where possible, enhancing the environmental
Commenting on the publication of the Review 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. What the Review has shown
us is that the Directives have been working well to provide the vital
protection nature needs, but that there are cases where problems arise and
delays occur, which is not good for business, the environment or local
Findings of the Review
The Review found that 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, some cases do encounter delays, although the Habitats and Wild
Birds Directives may only be one contributory factor.
From the evidence received and analysis undertaken, the Review identified
four key areas where change will improve the implementation of the
Directives for the benefit of both the economy and the environment:
Facilitating nationally significant infrastructure projects
Improving implementation processes and streamlining guidance
Improving the quality, quantity and sharing of data
Improving the customer experience
In the longer term, the Review commits to assessing how we can move
towards a broader ecosystems approach; for example by examining its role in
helping to make strategic choices about mitigation and compensation where a
number of projects are impacting on the same area.
Read the full report (54 pages, make sure the coffee pot is full!) here
Joan Edwards examines the outcome of the review of EU Habitats regulations.
- Wildlife Trusts
Over the last few months The Wildlife Trusts have appreciated the
openness of the Defra review of the Habitats regulations: we have been
pleased to have had the opportunity to participate fully and constructively.
We have devoted considerable resources to the process because we believe
that full implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives underpins
nature conservation in England. Any weakening would jeopardise our ability
to fulfil our country’s stated intention to halt overall biodiversity loss
and be contrary to the thrust of the Natural Environment White Paper and
England Biodiversity Strategy which emphasise the need for more coherent and
resilient ecological networks.
During this review it became apparent that very few developments are
actually prevented because of the regulations. But it must be understood
that there are occasions when a European feature which is extremely rare and
as delicate as Maerl, a calcified sea weed found in the Fal estuary, that
development just cannot be allowed.
Joan Edwards is Head of Living Seas
for The Wildlife Trusts
Osborne completely wrong on Habitats Regulations - WWF
Responding to the publication of the Habitats Regulations review by Defra
today, WWF said that George Osborne was completely wrong to describe the
regulations as a ‘burden on business’.
Carol Day, solicitor at WWF-UK, said: "In his Autumn Statement George
Osborne issued an unjustified attack on the European laws protecting our
most precious species and habitats. Not only were his claims that
environmental regulations are a burden on business unhelpful, they were
completely wrong. We are pleased to see that Caroline Spelman stood her
ground and strongly defended the principles and purpose of these Directives.
If we are to stop EU and UK biodiversity from continuing to disappear at
unprecedented rates, this package must be adequately resourced and endorsed
Environmental safeguards are 'no brake on development' - RSPB
European directives provide protection for sites of international
importance, such as Dungeness, in Kent
The RSPB has welcomed the findings of Defra’s review of the Habitats
Regulations as a victory for facts over political rhetoric.
The Directives and regulations are the most important mechanisms for
protecting our internationally important wildlife sites – those for which
England has a global responsibility. The Government's review, published
today, restates the Government’s support for the Birds and Habitats
Directives, and demonstrates that these vital environmental safeguards do
not act as a brake on economic development.
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, said: “We are pleased
that the regulations have stood up to scrutiny, just as we always knew they
would. No evidence was found to back up the suggestion made by the
Chancellor, George Osborne, in his Autumn Budget Statement that the
regulations are “a ridiculous cost on British business”. The Government’s
own review has shown that these comments were misleading rhetoric, with no
The review confirms that the regulations only contributed to delays in
English planning decisions when there were gaps in data, or when important
areas for wildlife, especially at sea, were not protected.
Martin Harper continued: “We welcome their acknowledgement that these
information gaps are a problem. The RSPB has been saying this for more than
a decade. But the Government must recognise that tackling this issue will
require investment in surveys, and we remain concerned that the review does
not outline any plans to do this."
The RSPB also gave a cautious welcome to the proposed creation of a Major
Infrastructure and Environment Unit. The purpose of this Unit is to prevent
delays to nationally important projects, by helping developers to integrate
these Directives into their planning in a positive way."
Habitats Directives Review - Bat Conservation Trust
Julia Hanmer, Chief Executive, welcomes some of the results of a
government review of the legislation that protects wildlife habitats, which
has taken on board many of the Bat Conservation Trusts recommendations. In
this blog, Julia explores the Review highlights, and considers how to build
on our hard work as we await critical decisions on planning rules.
Caroline Spellman, Secretary of State for the Environment, announced
today the results of the Habitats Directives Review. The Chancellor’s
original announcement of the Review in his Pre-Budget statement last autumn
caused huge concern at the rhetoric used to attack this important
legislation. So I am really pleased to see that the results of the review
take account of the widespread evidence we put forward to demonstrate that
the Habitats Directive, far from being a burden to business, is a vital
element of the mix of approaches needed to achieve sustainable development.
We are delighted at the inclusion of our recommendation that mitigations
made to replace habitats lost through development be monitored and evaluated
to ensure their effectiveness. There are positive measures to increase data
sharing, and to achieve evidence-based implementation of the Directives. The
recognition of the need for industry agreed standards is also welcomed.
However, it is important that mechanisms are introduced to endorse and
enforce standards effectively, particularly given the introduction of
broarder class licences, otherwise we are in for a bumpy ride which could
trigger further complaints about the Habitats Directives. The news that this
consultation will continue over the next 12 months is encouraging, and I
look forward to continuing to engage with this process as there is still
much more to be done to ensure smooth implementation.
Government gives backing to strong wildlife regulations - Friends of the
Responding to the Government's review of wildlife and habitat regulations
today (Thursday 22 March 2012), Friends of the Earth's Executive Director
Andy Atkins said: "This review shows that protecting our precious wildlife
sites is a key ingredient for a healthy and wealthy future - despite George
Osborne's misleading spin about environmental protection being bad for
Press coverage, The Guardian:
Conservation rules put no burden on business – government review
The result of a review ordered by George Osborne contradicts his view
that wildlife protection rules place 'ridiculous costs' on businesses
More reactions to yesterday's budget
2012: Environment is key to our economic future - RSPB
In his Budget speech today, Chancellor George Osborne continued the UK
along an economic path which locks us into unsustainable, high-carbon,
Responding to the speech Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said:
'While the Chancellor waves the flag for carbon reduction initiatives and
green investment with one hand, he is pushing through tax incentives for oil
and gas drilling off the coast of Scotland with the other.
'His plan for growth clearly involves building more infrastructure, more
roads and more runways, but this must be compatible with the green economy
we have been promised so many times by this Government.
Telegraph reports: Budget 2012:
Global firms take jobs overseas because of planning red tape, claims George
Confusion over the badger cull in England:
English badger cull in doubt after Wales scraps plans - says the
The badger cull in England is in doubt after the Welsh government dropped
its plans to kill the woodland mammals in favour of a vaccination programme.
Defra: Badger cull is the right way forward for England - reports
DEFRA has reiterated the Government’s determination to proceed with a
badger cull in England, following the Welsh decision to shun a cull in
favour of a badger vaccination programme.
The Department has made it clear the Welsh announcement has no bearing on
its plans to commence pilot badger culls in West Gloucestershire and West
Somerset this autumn.
Better Woods for Nature - Forestry Commission Scotland
Forestry Commission Scotland ‘s latest update on its Biodiversity
Programme (Woods for Nature) shows that three years of work has resulted in
good progress on 39 of 42 objectives.
The update report gives an in-depth picture of the Commission’s wide
ranging action for biodiversity on the National Forest Estate (NFE) and
which it supports in other woodlands throughout the country.
Some of the key highlights in the latest report include:
• In 2010/11, nearly 7500ha of native woodlands were brought into
management and 37,000 hectares of private forest was brought into long term
• Almost two-thirds (38,000ha) of our most damaged ancient
woodland sites are now under management plans aiming to secure and enhance
their biodiversity value;
• 97% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest
on the national forest estate are in good or improving condition;
3,400 ha of new native woodlands were created in 2010/11, helping to build
• FCS spent £760k on the national forest estate in
2010/11 on action for 6 key species (capercaillie, black grouse, red
squirrel, the pearl-bordered fritillary and chequered skipper butterflies
and juniper), including nearly 10,000 hectares of habitat improvement work;
• FCS are carrying out a complete inventory of Scottish native and ancient
woodlands, which will be the biggest habitat survey ever carried out in
Scotland, and we are on track to complete it by 2013.
The Woods for Nature- next steps document sets out what FCS expect to do
to continue the programme up to spring 2014.
Activity codes of conduct consultation starts - CCW
The Countryside Council for Wales is eager for everyone interested in
water related activities to comment on three newly drafted codes of conduct
on angling, wild swimming and canoeing.
The Codes were drafted by CCW, in our capacity as advisers to the Welsh
Government and in partnership with small working groups which involved user
groups, landowners and others with expertise to contribute. The Codes are
designed to advise people using Wales’s inland water on how to enjoy their
activities without damaging the resource they are using, or disturbing the
communities around them. The Consultation
The consultation period will be for 12 weeks, from the 1st of March to
the 1st of June 2012. It’s open to anyone who wants to comment. The
responses will be collated and presented to the working groups to guide the
drafting of the final codes.
Windermere Canada geese cull - RSPCA
We’re delighted that the Geese Management Group have decided to postpone
their proposed cull of Canada geese.
Our chief executive Gavin Grant said: "We're delighted that the Geese
Management Group has listened to reason - there has always been a compelling
argument to call off the cull. There are better ways of working with
wildlife and culling should only ever be an absolute last resort. We are
arranging to meet the Lake District National Park Authority as we believe
efforts should be made to develop an effective and non-lethal alternative to
solving any possible problems."
Friday 23 March
Nature in need: Half of world’s most important nature sites left unprotected
The world’s governments have committed to increasing the coverage of
protected areas by 2020 to address rapid rates of environmental destruction,
however, a new study led by BirdLife International, with contributions from
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), shows that only half
of the most important sites for wildlife have been fully protected. These
findings highlight an urgent need for improved targeting of new and expanded
protected areas in order to protect the planet’s wildlife.
“Protected areas are a cornerstone of conservation efforts, and cover
nearly 13% of the world’s land surface,” says Dr. Simon Stuart, Chair of
IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “In 2010, the world’s governments
meeting committed to expanding this to 17% by 2020, with an emphasis on
areas of particular importance for nature.”
New research has found that only half of these important areas are
currently protected. Researchers discovered this trend by analyzing the
overlap between protected areas and two worldwide networks of important
sites for wildlife: Important Bird Areas, which comprise more than 10,000
globally significant sites for conserving birds; and Alliance for Zero
Extinction sites, which include 600 sites holding the last remaining
population of highly threatened vertebrates and plants.
“Shockingly, half of the most important sites for nature conservation
have not yet been protected,” says Dr. Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global
Research and Indicators Coordinator
Ahead of next week's publication of the National
Planning Policy Framework :
Changing the planning system to favour business could be bad for wildlife
and for people, blogs Dr David Counsell of The Wildlife Trusts
Proposed changes to the planning system in England, intended to make
planning more business-friendly and remove constraints on economic
development, have generated widespread concern within the environmental
sector. The countryside, including thousands of Local Wildlife Sites
which rely on the planning system for protection, could be at greater risk
than at any time in the last 70 years.
Migration picking up speed - BTO Migration blog
With a settled high pressure weather system over most of southern Europe,
conditions have been looking ideal for migration to take place. It came as
no surprise then, when migrants began to turn up. Chiffchaffs have been the
most noticeable this week, with singing birds heard overlarge parts of the
BirdTrack map shows this nicely.
Blue alert! Bluebells on their way - and earlier than last year... - The
Woodland Trust is calling for the public to find their nearest wood and
record the first appearance of native bluebells, as it
tracks the arrival of the flowers across the country this spring.
The conservation charity is assessing whether the mild winter and short,
sharp cold spell in early February is affecting flowering dates. Just over
50 sightings have been reported to date, almost twice as many as this time
last year - with sightings much further north too. The average flowering
date for bluebells in 2011 was April 12, which coincided with the earliest
spring recorded this century. However, with the freezing weather experienced
in early February this year experts are interested to discover the effects
on the flowering of spring species.
The charity, in partnership with the
Forestry Commission, National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, is asking the
public to use the VisitWoods website, which hosts the largest online
database of bluebell woods, find a nearby wood and keep an eye out for the
appearance of bluebells.
Mild winter sees shuffle in pecking order for Big Schools' Birdwatch -
Blackbird was top of the pecking order in this year's Big Schools Birdwatch
A relatively mild winter has seen a radical reshuffle in the results of a
Scottish-wide survey into wildlife on schools grounds.
A record-breaking 390 schools, including over 12,700 pupils, participated
in this year’s RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch, each spending one hour counting
the birds in their school grounds between 16th January and 30th January.
This season’s warmer weather meant that school playing fields were once
again decent feeding grounds, particularly for larger birds that stamp their
feed on the short-cropped grass in order to bring invertebrates to the
surface. The harsh winters of the last two years saw a dip in numbers for
many of these larger birds, presumably due to heavy snow and ice preventing
feeding on their favourite school sites.
Top of the league table again remained the blackbird, with an average of
5.5 spotted in over 82% of schools; it was followed by the carrion crow,
which leapfrogged both the starling and black-headed gull into second place,
with an average of 4 spotted at any one time. The house sparrow rose one
place to complete the top five.
For the full UK-wide Big Schools’ Birdwatch results visit: