Stonehenge, pre-protest. Photograph:

EU Nature Law & Stonehenge Protest

The latest news on nature and conservation in Britain.

Inkcap Journal
Inkcap Journal

National news

Europe | The EU has passed a landmark law to restore nature after last minute changes of heart from Austria and Slovakia achieved a wafer-thin majority. The nature restoration law, which has proved to be the most contentious pillar of the European Green Deal, sets a target to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea by 2030. It also contains provisions to reverse the decline of pollinator populations, restore drained peatland and plant at least 3bn trees. The law was watered down from original proposals following fierce protests by farmers, yet it still only scraped past with 1.07 percentage points above the required majority. Key to the victory was Austria’s Green climate minister, Leonore Gewessler, who changed her vote despite the Chancellor of Austria announcing he would seek criminal charges against her for alleged abuse of power. Writing on X after the vote, Gewessler said: ‘My conscience tells me unmistakably [that] when the healthy and happy life of future generations is at stake, courageous decisions are needed.’ A coalition of environmental groups led by WWF Europe called the vote ‘a massive victory for Europe’s nature’, and urged member states to implement the legislation as soon as possible. The Guardian and ABC News reported the news. 

Rewilding | Rewilding projects have boosted job numbers at sites across Scotland, according to research conducted by Rewilding Britain. The analysis of 13 major rewilding projects, covering almost 60,000 hectares, found a 412% increase in jobs since they began. The projects include sites owned by charities, communities, private landowners and public bodies, and represent a variety of jobs, too: ecology and environmental monitoring alongside nature-based hospitality and tourism, estate management, recreation and education. The largest rise was at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan estate near Loch Ness, a former deer stalking estate, where jobs have risen from one to 26. Kevin Cumming, rewilding director at the charity, said: ‘These remarkable job creation figures show how rewilding can turbocharge social and economic benefits for people, while offering hope for reversing biodiversity loss.’ The Independent and the Herald covered the news. 

Emissions | The Supreme Court has ruled that the full climate impact of burning oil from new wells should have been considered when approving drilling sites in Surrey, in what campaigners are calling a landmark case against fossil fuels. Under planning law, the assumption had previously been that only the impacts of constructing the wells should be considered, and not the use of the final products, known as ‘downstream emissions’. Campaigners say that the ruling, which came after a five-year legal battle against Surrey County Council, could put future UK fossil fuel projects into doubt. On X, former leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, said the victory was ‘an absolutely giant step forward to a fossil-free future’, while the charity CPRE wrote that it was a ‘major win’ for the countryside. ‘Businesses should not be allowed to profit from causing lasting damage to protected landscapes, wildlife and our environment,’ it added. The BBC, the Independent and ENDS covered the news. Meanwhile, conservation group Oceana UK has launched legal action against the government for its decision to issue oil and gas licences without taking into account their environmental impact, reports the Guardian

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