The Countryside Alliance (CA) and the RSPB are in agreement that the European Union’s (EU) Birds and Habitats Directives are best left unchanged.
Both organisations welcomed the news that the European Parliament has voted not to review the two pieces of legislation, which are known jointly as the Nature Directives and were designed to protect and maintain birds and natural habitats across the EU.
The EU Environment Commission says it still wishes to modernise the outdated rules under the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), but many groups are concerned that the review would only weaken the directives.
Kate Jennings, from the RSPB and chair of the Joint Links coalition of 100 UK NGOs working together to defend the Nature Directives, said: “Not only have more than half a million people and many businesses across Europe shown their support for the Nature Directives, we now have the vast majority of elected politicians in both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament calling for their protection and better implementation. The spotlight now needs to move to better implementation.”
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the CA, agreed: “The Nature Directives have played an essential part in increasing our biodiversity and wildlife, with Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation forming the backbone of our conservation efforts. Management for shooting plays an important part in the delivery of the Nature Directives and we are glad to see it stay that way. Opening and amending the directives would only have led to a weakening of them, which could have threatened both our countryside and shooting.”
Environment minister Rory Stewart already stated in December that the UK Government did not wish to renegotiate the directives.
The European Commission will make its final decision as to whether the review will go ahead in April, but the CA says that it would be “inexcusable” if it ignored the European Parliament’s vote.