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Bad News for UK Wildlife

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    Posted: 22 May 2007 at 3:30pm
Government looks set to launch multiple assault on wildlife: a1b8c179d

Government looks set to launch multiple assault on wildlife

Planning White Paper published 21 May 2007

21st May, 2007

The Planning White Paper, published on the eve of International Biodiversity Day, paves the way for a multiple assault on our most vulnerable wildlife, according to The Wildlife Trusts.

The Government is keen to speed up development of major infrastructure projects (MIPs) and may argue this is to allow for renewable energy schemes to be built more quickly. However, The Wildlife Trusts point out that, alongside speeding up schemes such as wind farms, the proposals also pave the way for large-scale transport, waste and reservoir developments. Government plans could devastate wildlife as it struggles to adapt to climate change. For example, recovering otter populations are seriously threatened by collisions on roads and wildlife habitats are lost each year to major development, including landfill sites and reservoirs.

The blows to biodiversity, as proposed in the White Paper, are multiple:

˛ Assault One
Wildlife sites are likely to be losers under the proposed system. Current proposals for national policy statements for major infrastructure projects could override protection for national and European sites of importance, such as sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). They are essential nodes in our vision for large-scale habitat restoration. This is essential for climate change adaptation.

˛ Assault Two
If national policy statements for MIPs are produced without full environmental assessment, as is proposed, they will exacerbate the problems for wildlife. Most MIPs, such as motorways, create new barriers in the way of wildlife which already faces enormous challenges in moving and adapting to climate change. Visionary and consultative planning can allow for the recolonisation of wildlife into the wider landscape. There is no sign of this in the GovernmentĂs proposals.

˛ Assault Three
The White Paper proposals undermine embryonic Government plans for new marine wildlife protection as set out in the Marine White Paper. Major decisions will be taken outside the marine spatial planning framework and override marine protected areas. Currently only 0.001% of our seas is fully protected from all damaging activities.

˛ Assault Four
Local communities and individuals may have much less say under the current proposals. They pull decisions away from elected local and regional authorities into an unelected, independent and potentially unaccountable national planning commission. The public will no longer have an automatic right to comment on local planning proposals which affect wildlife close to where they live.

˛ Assault Five
The proposals would fast-track MIPs, such as roads and airports, pumping more and not less carbon into the atmosphere, increasing the burden on wildlife.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: ˘This is a multiple assault on our environment. If proposals go ahead, wildlife havens will be destroyed, forests bisected, coasts concreted and all the while local wildlife defenders will stand by, gagged. This comes at the very time we need a visionary approach from Government to allow wildlife to adapt to climate change.

˘Wildlife didnĂt have to cross huge impermeable barriers like the M4 when it recolonised after the last Ice Age. Far from creating still more barriers, planning should now allow for landscape-scale habitat restoration and give wildlife a better chance to adapt to climate change. Clever planning can also contribute a great deal to reducing emissions.

˘However, the Planning White Paper gives the green light for carbon-hungry developments, such as new motorways and airports. This is not consistent with national policy on climate change or the recommendations of the Stern Review. It is a missed opportunity.÷

For case studies and further information please contact:

Anna Guthrie
senior press officer
Tel: 01636 670075
Fax: 0870 0360101

Story by RSWT

Editor's Notes

˛ The Wildlife Trusts are big players in the planning process, with 50 staff involved in local planning work. During the financial year 2005/6, The Wildlife Trusts monitored over 90,000 planning applications, responded to nearly 5,000 and improved over 1,200 for wildlife.
˛ The Wildlife Trusts (TWTs) are members of a coalition of leading environmental and social organisations which have come together out of deep concern over the GovernmentĂs proposed planning reforms. Members include the Campaign to Protect Rural England, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, the Civic Trust, Transport 2000, the RamblersĂ Association, the New Economics Foundation and the National Trust.
˛ The Wildlife Trusts (TWT)  
There are 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the whole of the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney. We are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. With 670,000 members, we are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UKĂs habitats and species, whether they be in the countryside, in cities or at sea. 108,000 of our members belong to our junior branch, Wildlife Watch. We manage 2,200 nature reserves covering more than 80,000 hectares; we stand up for wildlife; we inspire people about the natural world and we foster sustainable living.
˛ The Wildlife Trusts' podcast ű Wild World
The Wildlife Trusts have teamed up with Aper■u Media - run by Nick Patrick, producer of Home Planet on Radio 4 - to launch a pilot podcast which features interviews and news from local Wildlife Trusts around the UK. It is the first time the conservation charity has worked on such a project. The free Podcast, in association with Aggregate Industries, is available to download at  


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