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WWF - Osborne completely wrong on Habitats Regulations

Responding to the publication of the Habitats Regulations review by Defra today, WWF said that George Osborne was completely wrong to describe the regulations as a ‘burden on business’.

Carol Day, solicitor at WWF-UK,said: "In his Autumn Statement George Osborne issued an unjustified attack on the European laws protecting our most precious species and habitats. Not only were his claims that environmental regulations are a burden on business unhelpful, they were completely wrong.

“We are pleased to see that Caroline Spelman stood her ground and strongly defended the principles and purpose of these Directives. If we are to stop EU and UK biodiversity from continuing to disappear at unprecedented rates, this package must be adequately resourced and endorsed across Government."

WWF said that only in a handful of cases are serious concerns over the Habitats Regulations raised, but even then ways are often found for necessary development to proceed whilst protecting internationally important sites. In addition, the Natura 2000 network contributes €200-300 billion per year to the European economy in valuable goods and services including tourism 2.

WWF said that, under pressure and to tight timescales, Defra undertook a thorough review, doing well to fully engage relevant stakeholders, which has delivered a robust package of measures to improve the implementation of the Directives.

Notes to editors:

1. Defra: Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review (published 22 March 2012):

2. Estimating the Overall Economic Value of the Benefits provided by the Natura 2000 Network (19 September 2011): http://circa.europa.eu/Public/irc/env/financing_natura/library?l=/benefits_natura_2000/estimating_benefits/project_reports/2000_benefits_main/_EN_1.0_&a=d

For further information, please contact:

George Smeeton, Tel: 01483 412 388, Mob: 07917 052 948, email: