Its their turn to #DefendNature LAWS that defend the nature we love!
Environment Ministers from across the EU have sent a clear signal that the Nature Directives are vital and should be properly implemented, not weakened, and now we need our MEPs to do the same.
In the first week of February the whole European Parliament will vote on a key report on what still needs to be done to halt and reverse the loss of our wildlife by 2020. It’s the same topic that UK Environment Minister Rory Stewart went to discuss with other countries’ Ministers in December.
This is our MEPs’ first opportunity to stand up for the Nature Directives – legislation vital to the protection of vulnerable habitats and species – and a crucial moment to send a crystal clear political message that they will defend the laws that protect our wildlife too.
RSPB have set up a quick and straightforward action to help you e-mail your MEPs. Email your MEP here
The strongest laws we have to protect our UK wildlife are still under threat! European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising the Directives in the mistaken belief that weaker protection for wildlife is good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife.
Be aware that when writing this blog our government are NOT one of the nine other European countries who have written to the commission expressing concern over weakening of the birds and habitats directives to make them more business friendly. Remember a few years ago George Osborne called the directives GOLD PLATED saying they stood in the way of development.
Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) are fundamental to the Birds and Habitats Directives. Our SPA’s are vital to the survival of the North Kent Marshes, the Greater Thames , Medway and Swale Estuaries, our communities and our way of life…
We urgently need you to send a personal message to your MP, saying you care and asking them to call on the UK Government – represented on the EU Environment Council by Biodiversity Minister Rory Stewart – to defend the Nature Directives
RSPB Chief Executive Mike Clarke writes…
This week marked an important moment in our Defend Nature campaign.
At a meeting of EU Environment Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, nine countries including France, Germany and Spain, spoke up clearly in support of the EU Nature Directives in a letter to Karmenu Vella, EU Environment Commissioner.
In the letter, the authors advise that the Nature Directives are ‘an essential component of biodiversity conservation in Europe’ and recommend that the Nature Directives be kept as they are with a focus on putting them into practice and enforcing them in full.
This is a significant intervention in the fight to save the Nature Directives. Such a statement from Germany alone would be influential but, collectively, the signatories are a major barrier to attempts to introduce new legislation to replace the Nature Directives.
It is a moment that has been building for many months and is a direct result of the public support from the 520,000+ citizens across Europe who responded to the public consultation on the Nature Directives through the joint NGO campaign, Nature Alert (Defend Nature in the UK). This overwhelming show of support took key decision-makers by surprise and created the ‘public voice’ for Member State governments like Germany to show leadership on the natural environment.
I know many of you will have been amongst these 520,000 – we know over 65,000 RSPB supporters did take part – and this is an important opportunity for me to thank you and to show you that public support can make a real difference.
Of course, as positive a step as this is, the Nature Directives are not safe yet. Discussions and decisions also include the European Parliament, and will continue this autumn and well into 2016. We still need your help to secure their future. In the UK and across the EU, nature continues to struggle, as seen in the State of Nature assessment in the UK, or the recent mid-term assessment of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy. The Nature Directives are key to reversing these declines – as the letter itself says, ‘it will not be possible to reach the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 without them’.
But the ministerial interventions this week, and the events I have attended over the last few weeks in Berlin and Brussels, give me much optimism and hope that we will succeed. At an event in Berlin earlier this month, we heard the voices of two young people: Lizzie Frost (17), a member of the RSPB’s Phoenix Forum, and Anais Sloman (21) from NAJU and a member of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN); a combined youth membership of 475,000. They spoke with knowledge and moral force. Their challenging question was how can young people have confidence in the political process, if their concerns about the natural environment are not answered.
But what can you do next?
We’re asking you to send a personal message to your MP, saying you care and asking them to call on the UK Government – represented on the EU Environment Council by Biodiversity Minister Rory Stewart – to defend the Nature Directives.
Also look out for the big conference on the future of the Nature Directives in Brussels on 20 November 2015 where the European Commission will be presenting the preliminary findings of the Fitness Check of the Nature Directives. We will be counting down the week before on social media, and I will be there speaking on behalf of Birdlife International in support of nature.
We need you to speak up to save nature. The EU Nature Directives have provided the highest level of protection to vulnerable habitats and species for the past 30 years – but they’re under threat!
European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising the Directives in the mistaken belief that weaker protection for wildlife is good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife. We urgently need you to add your voice to thousands of others below and defend nature. Without a massive demonstration of public support for the Directives, it will be very hard to prevent them being weakened.
Gill Moore, a spokesperson for the Friends of North Kent Marshes, explained that the marshes would not exist without the Nature Directives.
She said: “Our marshland landscapes inspired Charles Dickens to write Great Expectations, and hold a world-class natural heritage so important that it is protected under local, national and international law. The strongest of these laws are the Nature Directives, which protect our globally important wetlands from inappropriate and damaging development.
“These laws were instrumental in stopping an airport at Cliffe in 2003 and, more recently, in September 2014, when the UK Airports Commission ruled out building an airport anywhere in the Greater Thames Estuary or on the Hoo Peninsula. Any weakening of these laws could put our most important wildlife sites in peril. We must now join together to fight any and all attempts to water them down.”
A mini influx of black-winged stilts has brought a touch of the Mediterranean to southern England, as two pairs of these exotic-looking wading birds are attempting to nest at RSPB sites in West Sussex and Kent.
It is thought that a dry spell in southern Spain has displaced these wetland birds to southern Britain. And it is believed that a changing climate may bring these birds to Britain more regularly in future. The only times black-winged stilts have bred successfully in the UK was in Norfolk in 1987 and Nottinghamshire in 1945.
One pair is nesting on the RSPB’s newest reserve in West Sussex, Medmerry, the other pair at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools on the north Kent marshes.
“This is really exciting news and the first time we have had black-winged stilts breeding on the reserve here at Cliffe Pools,” said Warden Andy Daw. “They have visited before and a pair was seen about seven years ago on the reserve but they did not produce any young.
Yet another great reason to protect this special place for wildlife and say #jeThames #noestuaryairport
The UK Airports Commission are currently calling for evidence and studying 5 inner estuary airport options on the Hoo Peninsula. These options were studied in the run up to the Airports Commission Interim Report announcement in December 2013 when they were published alongside many other documents which can be found here
The five options are
Airports Commission own airport option based on a combination of the above which has sought to minimise cost, environmental impact and avoid relocation of the existing LNG facility 67 Isle of Grain Sift 3 FINAL
We believe that the idea of a Thames estuary airport is deeply flawed on every level
It was a great pleasure for us to spend time with author Julian Hoffman when he came to visit us here on the Hoo Peninsula ~ Ours IS the marsh country down by the river and we will fight with the utmost vigour to protect it ~ No Thames estuary airport ever!
“Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.”
~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861
“Large terminals, operational buildings, offices, roads and car parks will interrupt the broad open scale of the marsh landscape… The network of ditches and creeks running through the marshes will be severely affected or destroyed…Existing open views out over the Estuary will be lost and replaced by terminal buildings, aircraft hangers and extensive areas of paving…The low hills of the Hoo Peninsula rising out of the surrounding marshland will be lost entirely.”
~ Foster + Partners, Thames Hub AirportProposal to the Airports Commission, 2013