Letter of invitation to submit written
Sub-Committee C (Chairman: the Earl of Cranbrook)
has decided to conduct an enquiry into European Union policy on
biodiversity, and in particular the state of implementation in
the Member States of the Directive on the Conservation of Wild
Birds (79/409/EEC) and the Directive on the Conservation of Natural
Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (92/43/EEC). Reference will
also be made to the European Community Biodiversity Strategy,
on which a Communication by the Commission (COM(98)42) was adopted
by the Council in June 1998; the Commission is required to produce
biodiversity action plans for specific sectors (e.g. agriculture)
within two years and a substantive progress report by June this
The 1979 Wild Birds Directive was implemented in
UK legislation by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This
Directive requires the preservation of a sufficient diversity
of habitats for all naturally occurring species of wild birds,
coupled with the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
to conserve the habitats of certain rare species and migratory
species. The 1992 Habitats and Species Directive aims at establishing
`favourable conservation status' for habitat types and species
of European interest, listed in detailed annexes, by the designation
of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The UK transposed this
Directive into national law by the Conservation (Natural Habitats
&c.) Regulations 1994, without primary legislation. Together,
these two Directives are intended to result in the establishment
of a coherent European ecological network of sites, to be known
as Natura 2000. The first implementation report by Member States
is due by 5th June 2000; thereafter, the EU Commission will review
the series and report by 5th June 2002.
Written evidence is invited by 4 May 1999,
so that oral evidence can start to be taken that month. In particular,
the Sub-Committee would be interested in having views and information
on the following questions:
1 Natura 2000 sites
i. In relation to the objectives of these
Directives, and the required timetable, has there been adequate
progress in selecting and declaring SPAs and SACs in Member States
of the European Union generally and in the UK in particular?
ii. Have the criteria for designation of
sites and the underlying scientific rationale given rise to any
problems in practice?
iii. How effectively can a system based
on sites with designated boundaries respond to changing environmental
conditions, whether natural or human-induced?
iv. Are there certain rare or migratory
birds, or habitats or species of European interest that are under-represented
in the sites (on lists forwarded to the European Commission)?
v. Is there sufficient representation of
estuarine and marine habitats and species (including birds) in
the Natura 2000 series in UK, and in other Member States?
vi. Are adequate measures in place in Member
States, the UK in particular, to protect the declared European
interest of sites, terrestrial and maritime?
2 Biodiversity conservation
i. Have the Directives been successful in
improving the conservation status of the species and habitats
which they were intended to protect?
ii. Outside SPAs and SACs, has the legal
protection of listed habitats and species been adequate, and have
Member States accorded sufficient priority to enforcing these
iii. Do the Directives list all the key
species and habitats which require special conservation measures,
including maritime species and habitats, if the EU is to fulfil
its obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity?
3 Implementation issues
i. Has the UK Government been sufficiently
active in implementing the Directives, for example in monitoring
declared sites and reporting as required?
ii. Is the role of the Commission in encouraging
compliance by Member States with the Directives sufficient? What
obstacles have become apparent, and how could these be overcome?
iii. Are the obligations of competent authorities
under the Directives being adequately exercised in Member States,
in particular in UK? Are conflicts emerging with regional or local
iv. Are the criteria for promoting sustainable
development in designated sites coherent and defensible?
v. Has the burden of meeting the requirements
of the Directives fallen unfairly on particular Member States
or groups in society? If so, how should this problem be addressed?
vi. Have certain Member States been more
successful than others in implementing the Directives and, if
so, what lessons can be drawn from this?
4 Other policies
i. Do other national policies (e.g. agriculture
or transport) in the Member States, and in the UK in particular,
give sufficient consideration to biodiversity?
ii. Do the Commission (and other EU institutions,
projects and programmes) attach sufficient weight and priority
to the Directives and to EU strategy for biodiversity when taking
decisions on funding?
iii. Are there any aspects of EU policy
which run counter to the achievement of the Directives' objectives?
If so, what policy changes or formal processes should be considered
to address such shortcomings?
5 European Environment Agency
i. Do the activities and responsibilities
of the European Environment Agency, in support of Community biodiversity
policy, need to be extended or adapted in any respects?
Evidence submissions should not exceed 4000 words
(on about 6 sides of A4). If convenient, they may be sent by e-mail
THOMAS RADICE Tel: 0171 219 3015
Clerk to Sub-Committee C Fax: 0171 219 6715
European Communities Committee
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW 26 March 1999