Leaving the EU will put the protection of some of the South West’s iconic conservation sites at risk, Molly has warned. With exactly a month to go until the referendum, she points to the fact that the region contains a number of important conservation sites, offered special protected by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. A long list of sites currently protected by EU legislation in the South West include Poole harbour, Chesil Beach, Salisbury Plain, the Somerset Levels and Moors, Exe estuary, Severn estuary and the Isles of Scilly.
In total, the UK contains a total of 270 sites which are part of the Europe-wide ‘Natura 2000’ network of protected areas. Nearly 11,000 square miles of Britain’s nature is protected by this status. Molly said:
“We need to remember that the special habitats we take for granted across our region are offered protection by EU law, helping ensure they remain as nature intended and are safeguarded against development. No doubt some arguing for our exit from the EU will argue we’d be foolish to unpick such legislation. However, many of those wishing to leave the EU see nature protection as an unnecessary burden on UK business. Also, climate change, which perhaps poses the greatest threat to these sites and is best challenged at EU level, is denied completely by some Brexiteers.
“It is clear that the many valuable conservation sites that so many people enjoy and in which so many species thrive, are best protected if we remain a part of the EU.”