Wildlife Trust responds to Red Tape Challenge

Wednesday 21st September 2011

Wildlife Sites are a precious resource for local communitiesWildlife Sites are a precious resource for local communities

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country has responded to the Red Tape Challenge consultation with a robust defence of the role of wildlife legislation. In 21st century England with our daily commitments and concerns, it is easy to imagine the richness and quality of nature around us will just take care of itself, to go on being there and providing for our lives. This is a misconception. Without clear and robust focus on ways and means to secure its future, we will leave communities and the next generation with regrets instead of ongoing rewards. The natural environment is both an irreplaceable inheritance from the past, and a massive asset for the future, though typically overlooked in our leaders’ attention to priorities.

International and national obligations to protect and conserve our natural environment ensure that our natural environment is protected and conserved to varying degrees through the existence of a range of legislation and related regulations dating back over a century. Examples include the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, the Wildlife & Countryside Act (including the various protected species Schedules), the Protection of Badgers Act, the Countryside & Rights of Way Act, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. Despite this, our natural environment is under pressure from many fronts, as evidence from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and “The Making Space for Nature” report by Sir John Lawton.

This legislation has been hard-won and is responsible for the existence of a country-wide network of statutory sites such as Special Areas of Conservation and SSSIs, and non-statutory sites, such as Local Wildlife Sites, a range of special priority wildlife habitats, and geological features which are the homes of our cherished and protected species.

These places are relicts of ancient land uses such as coppice woodlands, heathlands and flower-rich hay meadows. Others include former industrial sites re-colonised by native plants and animals, natural rock outcrops, quarries, road and canal cuttings, spectacular landscape features or precious green-spaces in urban areas. Encompassing both rural and inner city, the typical and the unusual, the commonplace and the scarce, the natural environment underpins local character, local environmental quality and sustainability and contributes to our well-being.

The care of our environment is a principle most people would subscribe to, but a principle alone does not deliver protection. Weakening, undoing and removing the protection provided by legislation and regulation is not the solution to the perceived problem of red-tape. The solution is to invest in ironing out inconsistency, providing greater clarity, increasing understanding and awareness, and bringing practitioners together to examine the framework(s) necessary to achieve the sort of environmental protection we would wish to see our children and their children inherit. The government will not be “the greenest government ever” if the protection of the natural environment is compromised.

"The care of our environment is a principle most people would subscribe to, but a principle alone does not deliver protection." - Chris Parry, Principal Ecologist

Tagged with: Environment, Law, Policy, Red tape, Reform, Wildlife