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RSPB shock at Chancellor's attack on wildlife rules

Last modified: 29 November 2011

Dartford warbler singing from gorse bush

The RSPB in the south west has reacted with shock to the chancellor’s attack on vital wildlife rules in his autumn statement.

In the West Country Habitats Regulations provide safeguards from uncontrolled development to iconic landscapes as diverse as The Lizard in Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Somerset Levels and Moors, the Severn Estuary, Chesil Beach and the Dorset Heathlands.

Tony Whitehead, spokesperson for the RSPB in south west said “These rules mean that major developments like ports, airports, roads and housing estates have to pass a series of tests before they are allowed to proceed, tests of genuinely sustainable development.

“The argument appears to be that in these straitened times economic growth must be placed above the needs of the environment.  .

“This is not only short sighted, it also betrays the huge economic value of the natural environment in the south west which, time and time again, has been identified as a key economic driver for the West Country."

“And let’s be clear, the RSPB is not “anti-development”. Like everyone else we want to see the economy back on track. But we have to proceed with wisdom. With careful planning, under the requirements of the regulations, developments can work with wildlife, and we have numerous examples of this here in the region.

“In Dorset for example conservationists have worked hard with planners and developers to agree on a framework for housing provision that accommodates a sensitive approach to development near precious and internationally important lowland heaths for which the county is renowned.

“And in Cornwall the A30 between Victoria and Indian Queens was built around the sensitive Goss Moor National Nature Reserve, freeing the site to flourish while providing a vital economic artery.

“None of this demonstrates that wildlife and economic development are incompatible. Indeed, if you just think about for a moment, these Regulations were introduced in 1994 and shortly after this the economy went through a period of huge growth. So where’s the evidence that the regulations in themselves are any sort of barrier to economic growth.”

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