Green MEPs have expressed alarm at a review of nature laws being carried out by the European Commission. The EU Birds and Habitats Directives, known collectively as the Nature Directives, exist to protect wildlife species and habitats in the UK and Europe, but are currently under review . Green MEPs have said they are worried that big business will use the opportunity to lobby for the dilution of the legislation claiming it is a barrier to business and economic growth.
Dartmoor in the South West of England is one of the areas protected by the Directives. Molly Scott Cato is MEP for the region. She said:
“This so called review of the Nature Directives is all part of a broader ‘Better Regulation’ agenda, in which the Commission appears to be taking the side of big business, who are always keen to dismiss regulation as expensive red tape. Greens are determined to protect important legislation on the environment where there is clear evidence that such legislation protects threatened species and important areas of natural habitat.”
Around 100 voluntary organisations across the UK have also called for the Directives to be maintained, saying that any revision could risk a reduction in nature protection. Many have set up petitions and help for citizens wishing to complete the Commission’s consultation . Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East, said:
“EU-level action on issues like wildlife habitat protection is one of the great benefits of the European Union and must not be watered down. With a third of Europe’s birds currently under threat now is the wrong time to make changes to these Directives which have been consistently held up as successful. This review could also risk alienating a whole swathe of pro-EU environmentalists across the UK which would be bad news with a referendum around the corner”.
 The review into the Nature Directives is billed as a ‘Fitness Check’ which involves ‘a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is fit for purpose’. It aims s to be ‘an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected’. Further information at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/legislation/fitness_check/index_en.htm
 Friends of the Earth – https://www.foe.co.uk/page/sign-petition-defend-nature-laws
Environmental Investigation Agency – http://eia-international.org/action-alert-dont-let-review-dilute-eus-vital-nature-laws