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Wildlife trust boss slams Osborne’s EU rules speech
Beauty spots could be turned into building sites because of an “attack on nature” by the Government, according to an expert.
Tony Whitbread, chief executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, said Chancellor George Osborne was putting some of the county’s most valued beauty spots at risk. His concerns centre on comments by Mr Osborne that EU rules were “placing ridiculous costs on British businesses”.
Mr Osborne said: “If we burden them with endless social and environmental goals, businesses will fail, jobs will be lost and our country will be poorer.”
But Mr Whitbread said any change to the protection of wildlife sites would be extremely detrimental in Sussex.
He said: “The internationally important sites under attack are the Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), established under the EU Habitats Directive and the Special Protection Areas (SPAs), established under the EU Birds Directive. They are the very foundation of environmental protection on land and at sea in England and the building blocks for nature’s recovery. They include iconic places such as the purple heaths of Ashdown Forest, the unspoilt wetlands of the Arun Valley, the flower-rich grassland turf of the South Downs at Lewes and at Castle Hill and the secretive ancient woods at The Mens and Ebernoe Common.
“Is the Government’s reviewof these sites an attempt to ease the way for major developments on land and on our coasts?”
He went onto say that the perceived risks to jobs and businesses was unfounded.
He said: “Areas that have the appropriate level of protection for their natural environment benefit from that. To open those sites up to development would make the community poorer.
“There is a real risk that areas such as Chichester Harbour, which is constantly at threat from development, will be left unprotected.”
Mr Whitbread urged residents to contact their MP to voice their concerns about any decrease in protection of wildlife sites.
He said: “I am not attacking the Government but I think people need to make it clear that they care about the environment around them and want it protected.”