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Protecting our Earth’s Species – part 2

16 August 2017

In a world where we are becoming more advanced and developed, we are infringing on the habitats of other species. Intensive farming, urbanisation and climate change are all having a destructive impact on species of the world.

Therefore, when we plan to develop and build, it has become increasingly important to adhere to the different legislations that are in place to help protect wildlife and habitats. Ecological assessments and surveys need to be carried out to support planning applications in order to identify any ecological constraints on the project. Environmental permits are also required to lawfully carry out a wide range of activities that may pollute the air, water or land.

In last week’s blog, we discussed what it means for a species to be classed as ‘endangered’ and who makes this decision. Here, we will look at the procedures already in place in the UK to protect and prevent species from further decline and what this means for building and development.

Protecting species from extinction in the UK

The best way to protect endangered species is to prevent their decline and deterioration in the first instance.  Education is a key player in helping reduce the impact of humankind on the rest of the world, by ensuring that individuals are aware of the implications of their actions and the legal consequences and also by teaching people to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

There are many different active pieces of legislation which refer to species and habitats in the UK, this includes:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) – This is the primary legal instrument for protecting Britain’s wildlife, covering the protection of a wide range of species and habitats. This Act provides the legislative framework for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s)

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) – These regulations cover the designation and protection of European sites and protection of European protected species.

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act (2000) – The protection of SSSI’s which is already outlined in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, is strengthened in this legislation. It also ensures that there is prosecution of third parties that damage SSSI’s.

The Protection of Badgers Act (1992) – An animal welfare act that protects badgers and their setts, making it illegal to capture, injure or kill a wild badger.

Planning Applications and Protected Species

The term ‘Protected Species’ refers to species protected by legislation. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) provide full protection to European protected species and therefore it is an offence to:

  1. Deliberately capture, injure or kill any protected species;
  2. Deliberately disturb protected species;
  3. Damage or destroy their breeding and resting sites.

Building projects often run a risk of conflict with some of the rarest species in the UK. Some examples of protected UK species include the great crested newt, otters, voles, natterjack toads, and badgers.

When reviewing a planning application you must consider how the development may affect protected species which live near to the proposed site. You are responsible for finding out whether your development is likely to affect a site or species protected by law. If you are found guilty of an offence then you could get an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison.

Natural England’s ‘Standing Advice’ can help you to decide what to do when a protected species could be affected by development.

Do you think more could be done to raise awareness over protected species?

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