Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review

 

A review of how the EU Habitats and Birds Directives are implemented in England - the Nature Directives Implementation Review – has identified where implementation of the directives could be streamlined to make future planning, investment and development more efficient.

 

The review, undertaken by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) identified twenty-eight measures, each with a timeframe set for action. JNCC, one of the key bodies implementing the measures identified, has a joint lead role in four measures and is assisting the identified lead agency in three others. JNCC also has an information provision, advisory and participatory role in eighteen other measures. The majority of measures relevant to JNCC fall within the theme of improving the quality, quantity and sharing of data.

 

Although the review related specifically to England and associated offshore waters, JNCC will also provide advice and information to the statutory nature conservation bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where measures have implications for UK.

 

Delivering the measures in the Review is a priority for JNCC and will involve partnership working with Defra and Natural England to achieve the milestones. The first milestone was achieved in June, when JNCC and Natural England announced a new approach to information contained in Conservation Objectives for sites designated under the Habitats and Birds Directives. The standard text for Conservation Objectives for all terrestrial European sites has been revised to ensure that developers planning work which may affect a European site are clear what the conservation objectives for the site are and how they may be used in an “appropriate assessment”. It will also be clear what constitutes the site conservation objective, and what attributes are used for its monitoring.

 

Marcus Yeo, JNCC Chief Executive, sits on the Major Infrastructure and Habitats Group, chaired by the Defra Secretary of State, which had its first meeting on 11 July. The group provides oversight of the cross-government Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit, whose role is to improve interaction between nationally significant infrastructure projects and the Directives to reduce unnecessary delay and cost, while ensuring that environmental and economic objectives are fulfilled.

 

JNCC is also engaged with the Marine Habitats and Birds Directives Evidence Group, which met in July.  The purpose of the group is to address marine data sharing, research gaps, and post-construction monitoring. JNCC is working to develop research plans to address data gaps. A further measure involving JNCC is the introduction of new, consistent standards on the acceptable range and quality of evidence that will enable statutory agencies to provide their advice. This is due to be published in March 2013.

 

Several measures that involve JNCC highlight the importance of capturing, managing and sharing data and identifying gaps in information. There are also measures that highlight the importance of working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to improve the quality of surveillance and monitoring of European protected species, and more widely species of European importance. JNCC has an important role to play in achieving all of these measures because of our partnerships with the NGOs that provide UK-level data on these species.

 

JNCC has a statutory role to provide advice on the impacts of major infrastructure projects in waters beyond 12 nautical miles from land. At present, all such projects are wind-farm developments. The major interactions with the Directives and these developments are from bird collision and the potential displacement of marine mammals and birds from their habitats. JNCC is working with Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit (MIEU), Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (the regulators) and developers on improving ways to better evaluate these interactions.

 

Contact File

 

Dr Jessa Battersby

Head of European Programme

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866808

 

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