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Stanley Johnson awarded RSPB medal

Last modified: 10 October 2015

Stanley Johnson

Image: Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson received the RSPB’s most prestigious award at the charity’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London.

The journalist, author, environmentalist and former Conservative MEP was chosen to receive the RSPB Medal this year because of his role in the creation of one of the cornerstones of Europe's nature conservation policy – the Habitats Directive (1992). 

Together with the Birds Directive (1979), these pieces of legislation and their interpretation by the European Court of Justice have proven to be the strongest legal working tool to protect nature. 

For the past year, the European Commission has been consulting on whether to open up the two laws for review, meaning they are under threat of being weakened. Over 520,000 people from across Europe, including more than 100,000 from the UK, recently spoke up to save them in the European Commission's consultation - more than three times the highest number ever achieved before.  

Stanley Johnson expressed his great appreciation of the honour accorded to him in awarding him the RSPB medal. He said: "As an environmental campaigner, I have worked for many years with the RSPB, and in particular have welcomed their support during my Brussels years as we pushed for the adoption of EU-wide measures for nature protection, notably with the birds and habitats directives. 

"The development of NATURA 2000, Europe's nature protection network, is one of the EU's success stories. I applaud the efforts of the RSPB and the Europe-wide consortium of NGOs who are now more determined than ever to resist the current ill-conceived attempts to weaken or rewrite this vital EU legislation." 

Professor Steve Ormerod, RSPB Chairman, said: "We are thrilled to award the RSPB Medal to Stanley. We believe the wonderful contribution he has made to nature conservation over several decades deserves wider recognition. 

"In particular, Stanley’s role in conceiving, drafting, battling for and then shepherding through the legislation for the Habitats Directive, in the face of often fierce opposition, is one that should be admired and applauded. 

"Nature is all the better for that piece of regulation and it's so important its future is secured."

Previous RSPB Medal winners include HRH The Prince of Wales (2010), Sir David Attenborough (2000) and Bill Oddie (1997). 

In 2012 there was a very usual winner; the entire community of Tristan da Cunha were awarded the Medal for their efforts when the ship MS Oliva ran aground at Nightingale Island, 30km from Tristan da Cunha, spilling 1,500 tonnes of oil into the sea and threatening globally endangered species, including two-thirds of the world's population of rockhopper penguins.

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