The Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 have been amended again, with the new regulations coming into force at the end of January. The main changes affecting ecologists and developers are that the guidance notes provided by the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations will now have legal force and will have to be taken into account by the courts.
The other major change to the Regulations is in the wording relating to the offence of disturbance. BSG is monitoring how this and other changes may affect European Protected Species licensing. Dr Peter Shepherd comments, “Perhaps the most significant change is the legal force being given to guidance documents. The proposed redrafting of these documents is crucial to understanding how future judgements may be made on whether an offence under the legislation is likely to occur. We await their publication with interest.”