EU Birds and Habitats Directives

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Dartford Warbler by Vicky NallDartford Warbler by Vicky Nall

Will you help us to Defend Nature? Respond to the EU consultation on the effectiveness of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

May 2015: Defend Nature and make your views count for local wildlife. Consultation closes 24 July

Make your views known now at The Wildlife Trusts' Defend Nature page.

The EU is carrying out a Fitness Check of the two key Directives, the Birds and Habitats Directives.

These give fundamental protection for some of our most important species including the dormouse and otter, and precious sites such as the Thames Basin Heaths, Oxford Meadows, Windsor Great Park and the Chilterns Beechwoods.

BBOWT, along with all Wildlife Trusts and other environmental conservation groups, is asking people to respond to the EU consultation and highlight why protecting wildlife matters to them.

Read the Defend Nature report to find out why we need your support.

EU Nature Directives are essential legislation helping to protect wildlife, habitats and ecosystems across Europe and here in the UK. Without the Directives, protection for wildlife and habitats in the UK would be weaker and some of the special places we have saved might not have been.

Update 30 March 2012

The Government’s threat to weaken the level of protection of important wildlife-rich habitats, such as the Thames Basin Heaths and Chiltern Beechwoods, has been reduced.

Thanks to strong lobbying by The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations, the Government’s Review of the Habitats & Birds Directives, which protect important species and the places where they thrive, has concluded that, in the vast majority of cases, they do not hold back development or put an excessive burden on businesses.

The Law Society is carrying out a review of the way the Directives are implemented, so the Wildlife Trusts will continue to be vigilant to ensure there is no weakening of environmental protection.

Update 29 November 2011

Hidden in the Government's Autumn Statement on 29 November was a commitment to review the EU Habitats and Birds Directives, which are some of the most important wildlife protections.

We welcome a sensible review of the way some species protection works, but not the threat to weaken protection for some of our best and most special wildlife sites. These include: Cothill Fen, the Oxford Meadows and the Thames Basin Heaths.

The Wildlife Trusts and other leading environmental NGOs are calling for the Government to develop a new economic model that values the natural environment and accounts properly for our natural capital. 

Read the NGOs letter to The Observer.

In October 2011 the Habitats and Birds Directives enabled the protection of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA for wildlife.

This Special Protection Area (SPA) which covers a large area of southern England, including parts of east and south Berkshire, is important for ground-nesting birds such as woodlark and nightjar. EU legislation means that these areas are protected from development, and the Wildlife Trust works with local residents and community groups to speak up for wildlife at Planning Enquiries.

During 2010/11 a controversial housing scheme in Ascot, Berkshire threatened to increase pressure on the Thames Basin Heaths.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government upheld the Planning Inspector’s decision to refuse planning permission, and gave a ringing endorsement of the evidence given by the Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Francis, Senior Conservation Officer for Berkshire.

Rachel presented a very thorough analysis of why the appeal should be refused, even though those promoting the scheme claimed that previous appeal decisions suggested permission could be given. Other objectors relied particularly on this aspect of the Trust’s evidence.

The decision reinforces a local planning strategy which the Wildlife Trust, Natural England and RSPB developed with the 11 local authorities that are affected by the Thames Basin Heaths SPA.

Commenting on the decision Rachel said: “This is good news for the vulnerable ground-nesting birds on the SPA. It shows that the planning strategy is robust and can protect wildlife from inappropriate developments.”

The Thames Basin Heaths SPA was designated under the EU Birds Directive in 2005. This site has legal protection which means that the area must not be subjected to any further adverse impacts from human activities such as recreation, including dog walking, that could arise from increases in housing in the area.