European Community Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora
First report by the United Kingdom under Article 17 on implementation of the Directive from June 1994 to December 2000
This report summarises the UK's experience in implementing the European Community Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (the Habitats Directive) from 1994 to December 2000.

Executive summary

 
 
Defra logoThe Directive has been implemented in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) through the Conservation (Natural Habitat, &c.) Regulations 1994 (which came into force on 30 October 1994). The Conservation (Natural Habitat, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (which came into force on 13 November 1995) replicate the provisions in force in the GB Regulations by applying them to the separate legal system which exists in Northern Ireland. Directive 92/43/EEC was transposed into the laws of Gibraltar on 25 August 1995 by the Nature Protection Ordinance (Amendment) Regulations 1995.
 
On the basis of current knowledge, 76 Annex I habitats (including 22 priority types) are considered to exist within the UK. 51 Annex II species have been recorded in the UK. Ten of these species are, however, now extinct or have only been recorded as non-natives or vagrants; these species have been excluded from the site selection process. The number of candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs) put forward for each habitat and species are listed in appendices 3 and 4.
 
The work to select cSACs in the UK has involved many organisations, including government, statutory conservation organisations and non-governmental organisations. Selection of sites has been an iterative process, with widespread consultation at each stage. To facilitate the submission of information, sites have been formally submitted to the Commission in a series of tranches. As of tranche 17 (8 June 2001), the total number of cSACs submitted by the UK stands at 555 sites covering 2,227,078 hectares.
 
As a matter of policy for planning and all other consent regimes, the UK Government and the devolved administrations already treat candidate SACs as if they were fully designated. Candidate SACs in England have been afforded additional protection in law by virtue of an amendment in the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 such that candidate sites are legally protected from the date that they are notified to the European Commission.
A number of measures are used to ensure that sites are kept in good condition, including the preparation and implementation of management plans. Production of management plans and statements for all cSACs is seen as a priority by the statutory conservation bodies in the UK. In addition, a review is taking place of the existing permissions for undertaking work (such as water abstraction) on areas which have been put forward as cSACs. If necessary these permissions will be amended or revoked to ensure that the nature conservation interest(s) of the sites are not damaged.
 
The report concludes by considering a broad suite of policies which integrate site-based and broader countryside conservation. The UK considers that the wider countryside aspects of the implementation of the Directive are imperative if it is to deliver effective conservation of habitats and species of Community interest. There are many challenges ahead, not least working towards more sustainable implementation of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies. Looking forward to the next report in 2006, it would be helpful if EC-level discussions were held and decisions made soon on the requirements for the provision of monitoring information and the interpretation of the concept of favourable conservation status.
The Natura 2000 network includes the Special Protection Areas (SPAs) classified under the Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (79/409/EEC) (the Birds Directive). This report should therefore be read in conjunction with the sixth triennial report by the United Kingdom on that Directive which covered the period 1996-1998. Since this report, further work reviewing the UK SPA series has been undertaken. In addition, separate reports have been provided to the Commission on the UK's implementation of the derogation provisions of both the Habitats and Birds Directives.
 
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs*
* In June 2001, the UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food were reorganised to form the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Reference is made within this document to all three organisations as appropriate to the time at which reported actions occurred.
 
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Please cite as: , European Community Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora