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13th November 2015 - Law Commission Reports on Results of Reform of Wildlife Law Consultation

Following consultation that began in 2012, the Law Commission has just (10 Nov 2015) published its report and recommendations for the reform of Wildlife Law in England and Wales, along with a draft Bill (the ‘Wildlife Bill’) to this effect. The proposals include replacing the current suite of different pieces of wildlife legislation, with a new single statute, drawing all the various provisions together into one place.

 

     

 

The purview of the new statute will be largely the same as the pre-existing legislation, except that legal protection relating to habitats and designated sites was considered to be beyond scope of the reform project, and thus not addressed directly. The draft Bill aims to maintain the existing protection for wild animals, birds and plants; but attempts to reconcile the inconsistent and confusing use of an array of terms, such as whether offences are committed ‘deliberately’, ‘intentionally’ or ‘recklessly’. It also covers provisions pertaining to non-native invasive species, and ties in with the new powers for species control orders to be issued under the 2015 Infrastructure Act.

 

At present, both the report recommendations and the accompanying draft Bill continue to reflect the requirements of the various EU Directives and International Conventions that currently influence National Wildlife legislation, but it remains to be seen how this could be affected by the impeding EU membership referendum.

 

Notable proposed changes include a statutory procedure for amending schedules of species, to provide a more strategic and flexible approach to management of species as needs change, and recommendations for a more flexible system of civil sanctions such as fines and bans to be used to tackles breaches of wildlife law, but with the penalties for the most serious wildlife crimes extended from six months to two years in prison.

 

To find out more, see the link below to the Law Commission’s website:

http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/wildlife-law/

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