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Habitats Directive And Planning Permission

Volume 622: debated on Monday 19 February 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What action they are taking to ensure the protection of fragile habitats of endangered species following the recent criticism by the European Commission of the degree of commitment to the European Union Habitats Directive in the record of planning permission granted in Britain. [HL751]

The Government are committed to protecting endangered species and habitats—it is a key part of our sustainable development agenda. This was demonstrated by the new measures introduced through the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. Penalties for killing protected species have been increased and a new offence of recklessly damaging or destroying any structure or place occupied by these animals has been introduced. Increased protection was also given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest.The regulations which implement the EC Habitats Directive in the United Kingdom clearly state that licences to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a protected species as a result of development can only be issued if there is no satisfactory alternative; that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status and for imperative reasons of overriding public interest.