Archived May 2002


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JNCC advice to DETR on species legislation


The following paper is the advice given to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) in December 1999 (before the publication of the Wildlife Bill), on behalf of the statutory conservation agencies, concerning the effectiveness of species protection legislation in Britain. This paper contains background briefing, advice on species protection issues and includes six main recommendations. The advice is supported by additional recommendations, which are intended to improve the operation of wildlife legislation by clarifying wording and by reconciling differences between the Habitats Regulations 1994 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Contact point:
Dr Ian McLean
Head of Species Advice



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List of main recommendations

Recommendation 1: In relation to specially-protected species listed on Schedules 1, 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the word 'intentionally' where it occurs be replaced by the words 'intentionally, knowingly or negligently'.
Recommendation 2: The country agencies be given an enabling power to enter into Management Agreements outside SSSIs where this is necessary for the purposes of nature conservation.
Recommendation 3: The Secretary of State, and the National Assembly for Wales, be given the power to make an Order which prevents any person from carrying out an activity on land specified in the Order which is likely to cause harm to a species listed on Schedules 1, 5 or 8 of the 1981 Act, or to their Habitats, without consent. This legal provision could exempt actions undertaken with the benefit of planning consent, or which were undertaken in an emergency. Land damaged in contravention of such an Order could be made subject to a restoration provision.
Recommendation 4: The next Quinquennial Review should take into account the number of species to be included on Schedules 5 and 8 in relation to the other mechanisms now available for conserving species (including Action Plans prepared in order to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity in the United Kingdom) and in relation to the desirability of maintaining awareness of which species are protected. At the same time the benefits of legal protection should be retained for those species liable to persecution.
Recommendation 5: Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 should be amended to make it an offence to release, allow to escape, or cause to grow in the wild, any plant or micro-organism which is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state. Provided such action was not undertaken recklessly, we would exempt from this provision plants grown for agriculture, horticulture, forestry or in gardens and micro-organisms used for specified purposes (for example, medicine, veterinary medicine, brewing and food processing).
Recommendation 6: We would propose that Schedule 9 Part II be made available for listing of specified micro-organisms (as well as plants), where such listing is necessary for protecting the environment, and that the sale of plants and micro-organisms listed on Schedule 9 Part II be prohibited except under licence.
For more information on the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill or the statutory conservation agencies
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