At last some good news for our environment! Following a protracted debate, on Wednesday the European Commission announced that the Birds and Habitats Directives would not be revised, a process which could have led to a significant weakening of this important legislation. Indeed it seems likely that the Commission will now promote better implementation of the Directives by Member States. During the debate, evidence was presented that the Directives were "fit for purpose" and had a significantly positive effect on the conservation of species and habitats. Many conservation organisations, including the RSPB, campaigned for the retention of the Directives, and their efforts helped to engage vital public support. Many industries and businesses also supported maintaining the Directives because of the clear framework they provide for environmental protection.
Of course it is natural to question whether these European Directives will be relevant to us in the UK for much longer! However as part of the Brexit process, the Government has undertaken to convert EU law into domestic legislation where possible and so it is likely that the Nature Directives will continue to form the basis for our national legislation into the future. It is perhaps less certain what will happen in the devolved countries, but since many of our European protected sites are transboundary, it seems logical that we should continue with commensurate arrangements in Northern Ireland.
Find out more about how the Directives were saved here.