The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 is the primary mechanism for wildlife protection in Britain. Schedules 5 and 8 list the animal and plant species that are protected under the Act from intentional killing, injuring taking and the damaging of their homes.
Last month, changes to the government’s review process for legal protections for wildlife and plants created the risk that many species will lose existing protections.
Under the Act, species such as slow worms, grass snakes, water voles, purple emperor butterflies, toads and their habitats are protected from developments, hunting and sale. However, in a blow to wildlife and a boon to developers, the threshold to attract such protections will been raised so plants and wildlife would only be protected if in “imminent danger of extinction.”