HL Deb 16 October 2002 vol 639 cc58-9WA
Lord Burlison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any changes are planned to improve implementation of European Community Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) where European protected species are found on development sites in England. [HL5963]

Lord Whitty

The Government have decided it is necessary to make improvements to the arrangements for the implementation of the Habitats Directive in respect of European protected species and the land-use planning regime in England.

We are proposing, with the agreement of my noble friend Lord Rooker, Minister for Planning, to improve the protection afforded to these threatened species by integrating the requirements of the directive within the land-use planning process, ensuring consideration of all the relevant issues within the planning process rather than in two separate regimes. Officials in Defra and the ODPM have worked closely together in drawing up the proposals and a public consultation will be published shortly.

The proposals should improve the implementation of the Habitats Directive by ensuring that planning authorities take the directive's provisions relating to European protected species, such as great crested newts, and bats, fully into account in considering development applications. The proposals will also reduce the regulatory burden on business by integrating the two regimes and thereby removing the need for a separate consent to be sought following grant of planning permission. It will therefore be a quicker, more streamlined and effective process.

In the interim period. our department will continue to operate the licensing system for developments affecting the European protected species but with some administrative improvements.