New SSSI for Tees Estuary (England)

Natural England has today confirmed its 2018 notification of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – map area here. Citation is here.

The Tees Estuary is a unique environment where industrial facilities share the landscape with a wide range of coastal habitats which teem with wildlife.

There were previously seven SSSIs protecting parts of the Tees Estuary, which have now been merged and expanded into a single, landscape-scale SSSI, totaling nearly 3000 hectares (or 12 square miles).

The extensions have more than doubled the area of SSSI in the Tees Estuary. Additional areas of sand-dune, saltmarsh, mudflat, grassland, lagoons and estuarial waters are protected, along with the populations of breeding and wintering birds, the iconic population of harbour seals and sand-dune invertebrates.

The extended SSSI also continues to protect two areas of nationally-important geology, notably the mysterious prehistoric ‘submerged forest’, a part of which was exposed on the beach at Redcar after the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018.

Natural England provides advice on day-to-day operations on the estuary ‘up front’ to set out how current activities can take place in a way that continues to allow wildlife to flourish. The advice is set out in the Memorandum of Understanding of the Tees Estuary Partnership, which has a vision to enhance both the economic and environmental assets of the area.

Per the Natural England press release – The approach embodies the ambitions set out in Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which seeks to put people at the heart of nature by working closely with others and developing shared objectives at a landscape-scale.

The consultation on the SSSI took place alongside a consultation on the extension of the existing Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site to include additional marine, coastal and freshwater habitats and new bird species for protection. Following the consultation, Natural England will submit its recommendations on these extensions to DEFRA for consideration.

Natural England also designates the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, and the long sandy beaches, and harbour seal haul-outs are integral and well-loved parts of the local landscapes.

[we welcome Tony Juniper to his role at Natural England, and hope for many more such announcements]

IPBES Report on Biodiversity Loss (International)

A new global report by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published yesterday, finds that 1 million species are at risk of extinction — more than ever before in human history.

The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, prepared by 145 leading experts from 50 countries, examines the causes of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, as well as policy options and likely future pathways over the next three decades. It provides an integrated overview of where the world stands in relation to key international goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change. In addition to including more than 15,000 scientific and government sources, the report also cites indigenous and local knowledge.

Beginning with the UN Secretary General’s Summit in September and running through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2020, governments are now asked to present commitments.

The media release is here.

The Convention timeline to 2020 is here.

A major UK contribution is the UK Government Commission of Prof Dasgupta, University of Cambridge, to lead a UK government review of the economics of biodiversity. I Blog posted before about this announcement, made recently by the Chancellor.

Information about this Commission is here.

New National Planning Policy Framework (England)

The long anticipated revision to the National Planning Policy Framework applicable in England has today (24th July) been published, here.

This replaces the 2012 Framework. The planning practice guidance to support the framework is also published online (here).

The Press Release is here.

The viability guidance is also updated – here.

DEFRA announcements (England)

(1) DEFRA is consulting on a new air quality strategy – the consultation is here.

Note : House of Commons Briefing Paper (March 2018) entitled Brexit and Air Quality – here.

And European Commission refers (17 May 2018) the UK (and others) to the CJEU for infringement of EU air quality law – the press release is here.

(2) a new Tree health resilience strategy 2018 is launched – this is here.

(3) a National Parks review is announced – the press release (which links to the terms of reference) is here.