Report of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review (2012), and progress report (2013)
In 2011, the Chancellor of the Exchequer famously announced a review of the way that the two European Nature Directives (Birds and Habitats) were being implemented in England, focussing on the burdens that these place on development proposals.
The authors of the review concluded that, in the large majority of cases, the implementation of the Directives was working well, but identified four main areas in which there is scope for improvement.
These are (i) facilitating national infrastructure projects; (ii) improving the implementation processes and streamlining guidance; (iii) improving the quality, quantity and sharing of data; and (iv) improving the customer experience with statutory bodies. Twenty-eight measures were announced to improve implementation across these four areas.
They included the creation of the Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit (MIEU) ⁴, which will deal primarily with the ‘top 40’ national infrastructure projects; the production of a new over-arching guidance manual, on one website, on the implementation of the Directives; and to undertake a stock-take of existing guidance; consideration of an appeals process for protected species licences in the Law Commission review (see above); and support for the Penfold review recommendations that affect Natural England.
The 2013 progress report confirmed that the majority of the measures have been completed.