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False hope for developers

5 December 2011

Because of the perceived adverse affect on development in some quarters, George Osborne has announced a review of the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC and Directive 2009/147/EC) in the Autumn review.

Whilst it is claimed that the review will continue to support the Directive’s objectives, it aims to ensure that the Directive’s implementation does not lead to unnecessary costs and delays to development projects.

As the Directives have direct effect into UK law, it is hard to see how the review could conclude that anything but minor changes could be made without the risk of the UK government facing infraction proceedings. Even then, minor alterations could initially result in further delays as the interpretation of those amendments could be subject to legal challenge in the courts.

Having already annoyed environmental groups by sending out a message that environmental concerns are secondary to development, the likely outcome of any review will only further upset developers if no substantial changes are made.

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