Dorset Wildlife Trust has joined wildlife charities in the south west to condemn Treasury plans to weaken wildlife legislation.
In a strongly worded letter to regional newspapers the Chief Officers of the all West Country's Wildlife Trusts, Friends of the Earth and RSPB express their deep dismay at the plans revealed in the Chancellors Autumn Statement.
In the statement George Osborne sent a clear signal that the Treasury viewed the environment as a barrier to economic growth and would be reviewing the UK's implementation of the EU Habitats Directive which he claimed was "gold plated".
The Habitats Directive was established in 1994 under the previous Tory administration. In the West Country it provide safeguards from uncontrolled development to iconic landscapes as diverse as The Lizard in Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Somerset Levels and Moors, the Severn Estuary, Chesil Beach and the Dorset Heathlands.
A short-sighted measure
Simon Cripps, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Dorset has shown how to work together to meet the requirements of EU wildlife legislation for heathlands in a way which is simple and clear for developers and avoids the lengthy delays that the government fears. Downgrading the protection of our most precious habitats would be a short-sighted measure that would end up costing us far more in the end. Many studies have shown that the quality of the environment is vital to economic strength and to quality of life; the value to Dorset’s communities and to tourism and leisure industries is huge.
Dorset has one of the highest concentrations of European protected habitats in the UK, yet even here the area protected amounts to only 6% of the county. Surely this government would not want to be remembered for the destruction of a natural heritage that belongs to all.”
The wildlife charities are calling on people to contact their MP, either in writing or at their surgeries, and make clear their own concerns for the future of this region’s precious natural landscape. For more information, visit the Wildlife Trusts website.
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
Notes to Editor
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RSPB: Tony Whitehead firstname.lastname@example.org 01392 453754, 07872 414365
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
About The Wildlife Trusts The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org. There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.
About the RSPB
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, South West England Office, Keble House, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1NT. Tel: 01392 432691 Fax: 01392 453750 or UK Headquarters Tel: 01767 680551 Website: www.rspb.org.uk
The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way. www.rspb.org.uk
1. The main aim of the Habitats Directive is to promote the maintenance of biodiversity by requiring Member States to take measures to maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed on the Annexes to the Directive at a favourable conservation status, introducing robust protection for those habitats and species of European importance. http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-1374
2. Under the directive member states are required to designate:
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SACs are areas which have been given special protection under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. They provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity. Find out more about them on http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/sac/default.aspx
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) SPAs are areas which have been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within European Union countries. They are European designated sites, classified under the ‘Birds Directive 1979’ which provides enhanced protection given by the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status all SPAs also hold. Find out more about them on http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/spa/default.aspx
3. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment states: “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.” http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/
4. The Natural Environment White Paper (chapter three paragraph 3.6) states “The Government is committed to putting the value of natural capital at the heart of our economic thinking.” http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/whitepaper/
Simon Cripps by Debbie Dye
Upton Heath by Tony Bates