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Motion to retain EU protections for Devon’s nature debated by cabinet next week

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 0 Comments by Claire

My motion asking Devon County Council to lobby for at least the same protections for Devon’s nature as supplied under EU law comes before the cabinet next Wednesday (8 March).

The officer comment on my motion in the cabinet papers lists the 122 sites covering 115,000 hectares across Devon that are protected by the EU Habitats and Birds Directive but does not recommend a way forward.

In East Devon the EU legislation protects the pebblebed heaths, which include Woodbury Common, Aylesbeare Common and all the flora and fauna living there.  Birds like the nightjar and dartford warbler are scarcely seen elsewhere.

The report does acknowledge, however, the serious concerns of the Environmental Audit Committee which has published its concerns about the impact of Brexit on EU protected landscapes, so I am really hoping that the councillors will support it.

My motion is below:

Devon is home to many scarce and threatened habitats such our ancient woodlands, rivers and wetlands, upland blanket bogs, lowland heaths, Culm grasslands and our stunning coast
and marine environments.

These support a myriad of species with internationally important populations of marsh fritillary butterflies, greater horseshoe bats, otters, overwintering waders and marine creatures including whales, dolphins and basking shark.

European Union Habitats Regulations protection of land and seascapes such as the pebblebed heaths in East Devon, large swathes of Dartmoor and Exmoor, the Exe and Tamar Estuaries and Lundy Island have meant that wildlife has flourished over the years and has ensured that these places remain crucial international strongholds.

The latest State of Nature report published last October found that the UK has experienced huge losses of habitat and wildlife, and 15 per cent of those studied are threatened with extinction.

Leaving the European Union puts at risk all of these protections - and the Government has not yet promised to retain the same level of protections that currently exist under EU legislation.

This Council recognises the huge importance of these rich landscapes for people and wildlife in Devon – and calls upon the Secretary of State for the Environment to support the Environmental Audit Committee, as well as the coalition of wildlife and nature organisations, asking for retention of at least the same level of protection for our wildlife and environment, as takes place currently under EU law’.

The cabinet’s recommendation will go before full council at its 27 April meeting, where there will be a full debate.

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