CONSULTATION RESULTS - BIRDS & HABITATS DIRECTIVES
Whilst all respondents stated that the Directives have played a significant role in managing Scotland’s natural habitats and species, the majority view is that there is room for improvement.
I am delighted to launch the results of my consultation on the European Union's Birds and Habitats Directives. The Birds and Habitats Directives play an important role in the management of the EU’s flora, fauna and natural landscape. In Scotland well over amillion hectares of land and sea are protected by the Directives covering 56 specific habitats, 79 bird species and 18 non-bird species.
The Directives require Member States to implement two sets of provisions: firstly, to establish a protection regime for certain wild bird and other species deemed at risk; and to designate specific sites for protection of species and habitats. 1 Together, this mosaic of protections form the Natura 2000 Network.
The European Commission, as part of its REFIT agenda, declared its intention to review the effectiveness of its conservation legislation in January 2015. As part of that consultation, this survey has been undertaken to ensure that Scottish views are integral to any reform that emerges. Sixteen bodies responded to the consultation, including wildlife charities, government agencies and stakeholders.
Whilst all respondents stated that the Directives have played a significant role in managing Scotland’s natural habitats and species, the majority view is that there is room for improvement. The key shortcomings include:
• Compliance costs disproportionate to the benefits accrued
• Significant regulatory overlap between the different protective designations at EU, Member State and local level
• Confusion between the Directives and the ambitions of other EU policies such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy.
In addition, Scottish stakeholders have asked for greater investment to underpin the policies (recognising
the real costs of proper environmental protection), greater local flexibility in implementation and a greater recognition of the socio-economic impacts of the designations, particularly on remote and isolated areas.