19 August 2011

Protecting Our Wildlife: Have your Say!

Froglife is urging interested supporters to have their say in an eight-week public consultation on wildlife protection by Natural England. The aim is to rectify many of the problems that have led to poor enforcement of laws protecting wildlife and the natural environment in the past – a great opportunity to have your say, as Froglife’s Liam Atherton explains.

In 2010, radical reforms extended new powers to Natural England, The Countryside Council for Wales, and the Environment Agency to impose civil sanctions on those in breach of environmental and wildlife focussed regulations.

Prior to this, the only options available were to either issue warning letters, or to pursue a full criminal prosecution. This meant if someone acted without a specific animal license, killed wild animals, destroyed protected woodland or damaged a protected natural site many moderate offenders would go unpunished, and full criminal sanctions were reserved for only the worst offenders.

Following this public consultation, Natural England’s current enforcement responsibility for a number of policy areas including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), heather and grass burning, and breaches of certain wildlife licences could be increased. Natural England could then be able to order the restoration of environmental damage, stop illegal activities, issue fines, and accept voluntary enforcement undertakings if policy has been breached.
Legislation protecting Great crested newts could become more meaningful
It is hoped that with the new range of options available, wildlife and natural environment regulations will be enforced more effectively, and that compliance will be made much easier for everyone. However, as the specifics of these enforcement options are still to be decided this is your chance to help shape the future of environmental protection in England and Wales.

Whilst it is rumoured Scotland and Northern Ireland plan the introduction of civil sanctions for environmental policy, for now regulatory bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage, The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will have to be content with lesser powers currently at their disposal.
You can support our work conserving reptiles and amphibians and reptiles for as little as £1.50 a month. Sign up as a Froglife Friend and help save species and habitats here.

1 comment:

info said...

The above link to the Natural England website is not currently working but you can download a PDF here: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/improving-compliance-and-enforcement-consultation_tcm6-27480.pdf