Government figures have told the FT that the protections provided by the Habitats Directive are set to be repealed citing the “excessive” protection which the directive gives to Great Crested Newts as an example.
This follows the recent White Paper on Housing, “Fixing Our Broken Market” which makes a series of references (8 in all) to Great Crested Newts as exemplars of the “excessive bureaucracy” slowing up housing delivery.
While there is clearly a significant element of playing to the gallery in these remarks, the Government has shown a willingness to take specific measures to reduce habitats protections. In particular, the White Paper contains a proposal to implement a new “strategic approach” to licensing applications which appears to involve licensing for habitats disturbance being dealt with at the plan level. Given the potential challenges that this might face within the context of Habitats Directive regime, this provides further evidence that the Government is likely to look to reduce protections following Brexit.