It’s an easy newspaper headline: development stopped by Great Crested Newts or bats cause delays to building restorations.
Like so much regulation, the birds and habitats directives, some of the oldest pieces of European legislation, is being seen as a brake on economic growth. Critics say that European red-tape is getting in the way of allowing development and the opportunity to build new homes or factories to help grow the economies of Europe.
It comes into that category that politicians and commentators like to trot out about freeing up business to do business without the interference of the state and lots of small-minded bureaucracy.
A generation after it was introduced the birds and habitats directives are both up for review. This sort of legislation has been the cornerstone of nature conservation since 1979 and there is a real sense that it could be watered down substantially. 100 conservation groups have come together expressing real concern about its future and the directive protects more than 1000 species such as dartford warblers and grey seals and over 200 different habitats including woodlands and meadows.
For me there is a principle at stake here. How do we give the natural world the full and proper protection that it deserves? Barely a week goes by without a story about the threat to species and habitats under threat, whether in the UK or across the world.
We just can’t leave this to the idea of an unfettered market. It would cause so much damage and what we might gain economically we’d loose ten-fold in terms of ecology and beauty. We need nature in our lives more than ever before and any efforts to water down the protection that wildlife and habitats have across the EU would be a disaster.
Nature needs our protection. Its suffered at the hands of intensive farming, development and the impact of climate change. Once species or habitats start disappearing we are denying our children and grandchildren the right to see the amazing wildlife in Europe or visit the places where wildlife thrives. Its something that they won’t forgive us for if we abandon nature now to the altar of economic growth; we should be looking at ways to create growth without it hitting wildlife hard.
You can have your say about the importance of protecting our natural world via https://www.naturealert.eu/en