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Thread: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

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    Default Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    It's not often something positive comes out of the EU but two pieces of legislation, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, are vital for the protection of nature on a continent which has had arguably the greatest long-term ecological pressure from human development in the world.

    Earlier this year Jean-Claude Junker ordered a review of those laws in a bid to make them more "business friendly".

    As part of its deregulation drive - known as the 'Better Regulation' agenda, the EU's executive body has put the spotlight on two little-known but vital EU nature laws by holding a review of the Birds Directive, and the Habitats & Species Directive - a 'Fitness Check' in Brussels parlance.

    By setting limits and restrictions on where and how land can be used and developed, the aim of these laws is to ensure the most-threatened species and habitat types are protected, maintained, or restored to favourable conservation status across their natural range.

    If a project is given the go-ahead in an area designated for nature protection under these EU laws, developers will usually be required to avoid or minimise the destruction of protected species and habitats.

    Such thorough but flexible rules have resulted in higher levels of nature conservation and the protection of species like the Eurasian lynx, the European beaver and the Blue butterfly, as well as over 2,000 habitats such as marshlands, estuaries, mountains, coastal lagoons, meadows, dunes and grasslands, to name a few.

    In total, 20% of Europe's land and 4% of its marine sites are protected - the biggest network of protected areas in the world.

    Taking a look at legislation to check it is still relevant is not problematic in itself. Yet, while the official outcome of the review won't be known before the end of the year, European Commission President Juncker has already asked Environment Commissioner Vella to investigate merging the two Directives into a "more modern piece of legislation" - sentiments echoed by Frans Timmermans, the Commission's First Vice-President who has been tasked with leading President Juncker's deregulation push.
    http://www.theecologist.org/News/new...ture_laws.html

    Environmentalists are outraged as the two laws cornerstone EU conservation rules, enshrining a network of ‘Natura 2000’ protected sites, and offering statutory protection to over 1,000 animals and plant species. More than 200 habitats such as meadows, wetlands and forests are also safeguarded by the directives.

    “The habitats and birds directives are the foundation of nature conservation across Europe and are scientifically proven to be effective where properly implemented,” said Kate Jennings, the head of the RSPB’s site policy unit, and chair of the campaign. “The directives deliver demonstrable benefits for nature, as well as significant social and economic benefits.”

    Protected sites in the UK were being lost at a rate of 15% a year before the directives, but this declined to just 1% a year afterwards, Jennings said.

    Action plans drawn up under the birds directive have also helped nurture the recovery of over half of the globally endangered bird species targeted, according to research by Birdlife International. These include griffon vultures, dalmatian pelicans, Bonelli’s eagles and the common crane.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environme...-wildlife-laws

    Record-breaking numbers of citizen responses

    But there is a fightback. As part of this review of EU nature laws, a public consultation has been opened for European citizens to have their say.

    And through 'Nature Alert', a campaign organised by four NGOs - the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), WWF, BirdLife Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe - over 325,500 people have responded to tell the Commission that they want Europe's nature laws not only maintained, but better implemented and enforced.

    This is a record-breaking level of participation in a Commission public consultation, even surpassing the 145,000 responses to one on elements of the controversial EU-US trade deal - the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

    And just as mounting public pressure has successfully slowed progress on TTIP and the imminent risk it poses for hard-fought-for social and environmental standards, so too can widespread public mobilisation against this attack on nature expose this new Commission's hostile approach to both new and existing environmental laws.

    Deregulation is often packaged as a fight against red tape or a drive to improve efficiency by removing so-called 'burdens' on business or 'barriers' to trade, and its advocates defend it as 'not lowering standards'. But the reality is that most of what some may call 'burdens' are not unnecessary bureaucratic procedures. They are the social and environmental standards that protect us all and the world we live in.
    http://www.theecologist.org/News/new...ture_laws.html

    However nine EU members' environmental ministers have made an alliance to oppose any watering down of the legislation and to keep the laws. This is all the more important considering that the countries involved have some of the most valuable habitats in Europe, notably Poland which still has extensive areas of primeval forest. Unfortunately Ireland does not seem to put the same value on nature conservation.

    But now nine European countries are telling the Commission to keep the laws as they are and improve their implementation. A letter, led by the German environment minister, has been signed and formally handed over to EU Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, calling for these important nature laws not to be re-opened.

    This key alliance, made public today, includes eight other European Governments (France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia and Luxembourg) whose countries together represent around two thirds (63%) of the EU’s total population.
    http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-c...an-nature-laws

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraxinus View Post
    It's not often something positive comes out of the EU but two pieces of legislation, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, are vital for the protection of nature on a continent which has had arguably the greatest long-term ecological pressure from human development in the world.

    Earlier this year Jean-Claude Junker ordered a review of those laws in a bid to make them more "business friendly".


    http://www.theecologist.org/News/new...ture_laws.html


    http://www.theguardian.com/environme...-wildlife-laws


    http://www.theecologist.org/News/new...ture_laws.html

    However nine EU members' environmental ministers have made an alliance to oppose any watering down of the legislation and to keep the laws. This is all the more important considering that the countries involved have some of the most valuable habitats in Europe, notably Poland which still has extensive areas of primeval forest. Unfortunately Ireland does not seem to put the same value on nature conservation.


    http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-c...an-nature-laws

    I wasn't aware of this. What specific Irish legislation would be affected by the changes ?
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    I wasn't aware of this. What specific Irish legislation would be affected by the changes ?
    It has largely been omitted by the Irish media but conservation focused groups including An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust have been campaigning for Ireland to oppose Juncker's review.

    The most important legislation underpinning biodiversity and nature conservation in Ireland is the Wildlife Act, 1976 the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 and the European Union (Natural Habitats) Regulations, SI 94/1997, which have been amended twice with SI 233/1998 & SI 378/2005. The 1997 Regulations and their amendments were subsequently revised and consolidated in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.

    The Wildlife Act, 1976 provided a good legislative base for nature conservation. The species protection provisions, including those regulating hunting, are quite comprehensive, to the extent, for example, that they largely foresaw similar aspects of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. However, the habitat/site protection measures in the 1976 Act were relatively weak, and were almost completely limited to measures which could be introduced in agreement with landowners. There was very limited power to ensure protection, even in the case of outstanding habitats or sites, where agreement of landowners was not forthcoming.

    Nature conservation legislation was substantially enlarged and improved by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 and the Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations.
    http://www.npws.ie/legislation

    As the above piece alludes to, our national laws intentions are good but are relatively weak. The EU legislation meant Ireland had an obligation to uphold the Habitats and Birds Directives or face repercussions, hence the governments reluctant move to enforce the protection of designated peatland sites a few years ago. This is possibly a good reason for them not to oppose Junker's plans coming up to an election and all.

    With the further intensification of agriculture to increase food production, the threat of fracking and other possible industrial developments, it's worrying to see a potential watering down of protection for ecosystems already under immense strain.

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraxinus View Post
    It has largely been omitted by the Irish media but conservation focused groups including An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust have been campaigning for Ireland to oppose Juncker's review.


    http://www.npws.ie/legislation

    As the above piece alludes to, our national laws intentions are good but are relatively weak. The EU legislation meant Ireland had an obligation to uphold the Habitats and Birds Directives or face repercussions, hence the governments reluctant move to enforce the protection of designated peatland sites a few years ago. This is possibly a good reason for them not to oppose Junker's plans coming up to an election and all.

    With the further intensification of agriculture to increase food production, the threat of fracking and other possible industrial developments, it's worrying to see a potential watering down of protection for ecosystems already under immense strain.
    It may not be strong, but in rural areas it is the best protection we have from environmentally destructive development.

    A lot of the problems of implementation in Ireland have in my view been more to do with lack of good communications, lack of information for farmers, and the taking of a bureaucratic rather than cooperative approach to habitat preservation (although there have been some good individual projects here and there).

    Also, Ireland as a State owns much less of the land in the state than is the case in many countries, so preservation is seen as an economic burden on poorer farmers who own valuable habitats.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    It may not be strong, but in rural areas it is the best protection we have from environmentally destructive development.

    A lot of the problems of implementation in Ireland have in my view been more to do with lack of good communications, lack of information for farmers, and the taking of a bureaucratic rather than cooperative approach to habitat preservation (although there have been some good individual projects here and there).

    Also, Ireland as a State owns much less of the land in the state than is the case in many countries, so preservation is seen as an economic burden on poorer farmers who own valuable habitats.
    Absolutely, communication and co-operation has been abysmal. The Burren Life project is a huge success story and that was started by a grassroots movement.

    The scenario is definitely different to a lot of European countries. We probably have the greatest percentage of land under agriculture and so the vast majority of our landscape is used, there is virtually no wilderness.
    Although it is changing, there is also a culture of ignorance in ways, even though I dislike using that word. It's reflected very much in how the media covers wildlife issues....especially when a protected species, usually small sized, gets in the way of development. It's scoffed at, the most recent example I think was Donald Trumps attempted golf course development being stopped by a protected snail. It was ridiculed. The same when a hotel was prevented in Boyle, Co. Roscommon because of a protected bat species.

    Education is the key though. When people realise how important and valuable our natural heritage is, and they can relate to it, their attitude changes.

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    The EU parliament voted massively in favour of protecting the EU Birds and Habitats legislation in no small part to people pressure all over Europe.

    In a huge vote at the European Parliament this lunchtime, Europe’s political representatives have stood up to defend key under-threat EU nature laws.

    By an overwhelming majority of 592 to 52, MEPs voted to approve a report on the Mid-term review of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, which calls for the protection of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The report was an ‘own-initiative report’ led by the Belgian MEP Mark Demesmaeker.

    The report stresses that full implementation and enforcement of these laws, collectively known as the Nature Directives, are needed to achieve the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy runs until 2020 and by which time the EU has to halt biodiversity loss and achieve six targets. These targets cover EU legislation on nature, agriculture, fisheries, and invasive alien species, and also initiatives for restoring and connecting nature areas and action for biodiversity outside the EU.

    The decisive result for nature conservation took place today in the Parliament’s plenary chamber in Strasbourg, where MEPs meet each month.

    The call to save the laws has come about due to the ‘Fitness Check’ process currently being carried out by the European Commission on the laws, known collectively as the Nature Directives. There are fears they could be re-opened, and potentially weakened.

    Today’s result comes after a number of national governments showed their support for the directives, with the EU Environment Council opposing their re-opening back in December.

    A massive level of support from the public has also been demonstrated, with more than half a million people, a record-breaking number, backing the laws during a consultation which ended last July. Further, in the lead up to today’s vote, thousands of people across Europe Tweeted to MEPs urging them to back the report.
    The vote in Parliament is another milestone for the Nature Alert campaign, led by BirdLife and other conservation organisations, calling on the European Commission to protect the Nature Directives and improve their implementation, rather than re-open them.
    http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-c...t-votes-nature

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraxinus View Post
    The EU parliament voted massively in favour of protecting the EU Birds and Habitats legislation in no small part to people pressure all over Europe.
    http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-c...t-votes-nature
    This is great - but does it put an end to Juncker's nonsense ? The European Parliament's powers are feeble to say the least.

    I'm thinking Bertie, I'm thinking frogs.

    The frogs are all that stand between us and CRH , right ?
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    This is great - but does it put an end to Juncker's nonsense ? The European Parliament's powers are feeble to say the least.

    I'm thinking Bertie, I'm thinking frogs.

    The frogs are all that stand between us and CRH , right ?
    I would completely agree Re that this is not over and the parliament can be toothless. But I suppose it at least shows political support for the Natura legislation.

    I'm not sure what the frogs did to fend off CRH?

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    Default Re: Juncker Attacks EU Nature Laws But Opposition Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraxinus View Post
    With the further intensification of agriculture to increase food production, the threat of fracking and other possible industrial developments, it's worrying to see a potential watering down of protection for ecosystems already under immense strain.
    Friends of the Earth Ireland have six questions on the the future of our energy system for all the candidates in the General election. You can email your candidates to find out where they stand. One of these questions is: Will you (or your party) introduce and support legislation and policy to ban fracking in Ireland?

    => Ask your Dáil candidates to support a fossil free, community-centred energy system
    "Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money."

    "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

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