Commission refers the United Kingdom to the Court over its failure to protect marine species

UK in Court over failure to protect harbour porpoise in UK waters.

The European Commission is taking the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to propose sites for the protection of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), a marine mammal regularly found in UK waters.

EU legislation on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive, Council Directive 92/43/EEC) requires Member States to propose a list of sites for a number of species and habitat types, ensuring their protection from threats which could seriously harm them and to maintain and restore them in a favourable status in the whole of the EU by taking the conservation measures needed.

Due to the unfavourable status of the harbour porpoises in the EU, 13 Member States, other than the UK, have designated sites for its protection in about 200 Natura 2000 sites. The UK has so far formally proposed only one small site in Northern Ireland (the Skerries and Causeway Special Area of Conservation) and one site in Scotland (the Inner Hebrides and Minches Special Area of Conservation).

As the UK has an extensive marine area, it has a particular responsibility for the protection of this species. The Commission has repeatedly urged the British authorities to fulfil their key obligations for the conservation of the species, as other Member States have done already.

Today's action follows a letter of formal notice sent to the UK government in June 2013 and a reasoned opinion sent in October 2014. While the UK has recently conducted a public consultation on a number of potential sites in English and Welsh waters and this month formally proposed one site in Scottish waters, more needs to be done. The continued failure to propose and designate sufficient sites leaves the areas where the species occurs in greatest densities without the protection required. This refers in particular to the requirement to carry out adequate assessments of potentially damaging developments or activities, such as from offshore wind farm construction, oil and gas exploration and fishing.

Read the full press release in here.

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Commission refers Bulgaria to Court of Justice over failure to sufficiently protect endangered bird species

In Europe, many species of wild birds are in decline, which disturbs the biological balance and is a serious threat to the natural environment. Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds aims to protect all species of wild birds that occur naturally in the Union. The Directive bans activities that directly threaten birds, such as the deliberate killing or capture, destruction of nests, removal of eggs, trading live or dead birds. It also places great emphasis on the protection of habitats for endangered and migratory species, by establishing the network of Special Protection Areas.


The European Commission is taking Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to protect unique habitats and important bird species in the Rila Mountains. The Bulgarian authorities have failed to widen the zone classified as a special protection area in order to provide adequate protection to 17 endangered bird listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive, thus putting at risk the conservation of species such as Tengmalm's [Boreal’s] owl (Aegolius funereus) and the Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), as well as the white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), the three-toed woodpecker (Picoudes tridactilus), the hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia) and the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius).


Despite the Commission's reasoned opinion sent in October 2014 about the need to extend protection areas in the Rila Mountains, Bulgaria has not complied with this obligation. The Commission is, therefore, referring this case to the Court of Justice of the EU.


In January 2016, the Court ruled against Bulgaria (case C-141/14) in a similar case concerning the designation and protection of Kaliakra, another important area for protection of birds in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.


Original article on EC website. 
 

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