21st December 2016
Throughout 2016 Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) has been working with a number of different partners to defend the European Nature Directives as this legislation was reviewed as part of the REFIT process (read article HERE). This legislation is vitaly important to protect bats and many other species across Europe. We are happy to report that on the 7th of December 2016 the European Commission declared that the Nature Directives were 'fit for purpose'. BCT has been working in parallel with many other organisations across the UK and Europe in calling for our supporters to respond to the consultation that lead to this historic vote. Over 550,000 people across Europe took part in the consultation - the biggest public consultation response that the EU has ever had, with over 100,000 replies originating from the UK (full consultation HERE).
The Nature Directives (comprising the Birds and the Habitats Directives) provide the highest level of protection to our habitats and species and ensure that this is consistent across Europe. They are a very important part of the protection afforded to bat and other species so it is very reassuring to have this solid confirmation of the fitness of this legislation.
People's voices do make a difference. In the UK, we will continue to campaign to ensure that the EU referendum result does not impact negatively on the protection of UK wildlife. Brexit can be an opportunity to enhance and strengthen the protection that already exists. Government Minister Robin Walker recently announced that "We will maintain our proud record on environmental science and conservation after leaving the EU" (more HERE). Over the coming months and years we will be working hard to ensure that the government keeps to its word and that legal protection of species and their habitats is not weakened as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU. Currently we are anticipating a Great Repeal Bill which has potential for positive outcomes but also has levels of risk. However at this stage the way forward the Government will decide to take is not clear. We will be watching closely and will provide updates as we strive to bring about positive outcomes.
We need your help and support in influencing the UK Government. As biodiversity is a devolved matter, so the Devolved Administrations, also have a role in this. One of the most effective ways we can do this is by collectively sending a strong message to our politicians that existing legal protections based on the European Habitats Directive must, at the very least, be retained, if not strengthened. If you have written to your local politician already - thank you!
If you haven't yet written to your local politician whether that is your MP, AM, SNP etc, then we would urge you to do so. We are asking everyone who cares about bats to contact their local MP (Details of who your MP is can be found HERE). We have prepared a template letter to make things easier and that can be found HERE. Asking your local politician to write and/or speak on your behalf is a very effective way of influencing Ministers - and the more letters we send together the better. Regardless of how you voted in the referendum, we all share a commitment to the continued protection of bats in UK law. If you could spend a few minutes tailoring the letter to include details relevant to your local area it will make a huge difference. We are aware of over 60 letters already sent to local politicians on this matter and are starting to get responses at a ministerial level. So thank you to those who have already supported bat conservation in this way, but we need as many people to help us with this as possible.
We would be grateful if you could email a copy of any letters you do send to our Head of Biodiversity, Jan Collins, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also Tweet the following to us @_BCT_ to tell us that you have written - "Today I have written to my local MP to ensure legislation protecting bats is not weakened as a result of Brexit @_BCT_ #batsandbrexit"
Read our previous news about this:
Nature Directives - UPDATE (18 February 2016) - http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/314/nature_directives_a_update
Our Nature is still under threat, but you can make the difference - http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/307/our_nature_is_still_under_threat_but_you_can_make_the_difference
Time to Defend Nature again - http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/297/time_to_defend_nature_again
Let's make sure that your vice is heard - deadline 26th July 2015 - http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/282/letas_make_sure_that_our_voice_is_heard_a_deadline_26th_july_2015
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its network of 100 local bat groups and more than 1,000 bat workers survey roosts and hibernation sites, and work with householders, builders, farmers and foresters to protect bats. www.bats.org.uk
All British bats are protected under British law, because of severe declines in bat numbers during the twentieth century. Loss of roosting habitat to development and construction, loss of foraging habitat as farming practice has changed (using pesticide and losing meadows and hedgerows) and loss of hedgerows, waterways and commuting routes linking the two all contributed to the declines in bat populations.
Because of widespread population declines and continued vulnerability, all British bat species are European protected species and afforded a high level of protection under both the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying their breeding sites and roosts.
The Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 is for anyone who needs help with bats. If you find a grounded or injured bat, believe bats to be at risk, think you may have bats or just want to let us know about a bat roost site please call the Bat Helpline.
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