According to the Govt's website, it makes provision for :
- improving the funding and management of major roads
- streamlining the planning process for major projects
- protecting infrastructure from invasive plants and animals
- supporting house building
- making it easier and cheaper to register land and property
- helping communities become stakeholders in renewable electricity projects
- maximising the recovery of oil and gas from the UK continental shelf simplifying underground access procedures for the shale and geothermal energy industries
- Exempts fracking companies from trespass laws
- Makes the sale of public forests possible (the campaign group 38 degrees raised a hue and cry about this last year and public opinion prevented it from happening)
- Redefines what a non-native invasive species is
Essentially, this Act will re-classify non-native and invasive species as 'any species not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain, making them subject to potential eradication or control.'
Sound worrying? You bet it is. What it means is that anything which has become extinct in this country in recent years can not, under the provisions of this law, be re-introduced. We all know the state our wildlife is in and where it's heading- extinctions in the coming decades of species that were common 50 years ago is not unthinkable, to combat this, many species that have already been lost to these shores have been successfully reintroduced in recent years. Think Red Kites, or Capercaillies, or even the Large Blue Butterfly, which despite 50 years of effort to save it became extinct in the UK in 1979 and was reintroduced using stocks from Sweden in 1985. It has since recolonised and is doing well, but this would not be allowed under the regulations of the Infrastructure Bill.
It also covers any species listed in schedule 9 (non natives) of the Countryside And Rights Of Way Act, so that means Barn Owls, Chough, Corncrake, Barnacle Goose, Red Kite, Goshawk, and for plants: Alexanders, Three Cornered Garlic and Montbretia, among others. Can you imagine the English countryside without Barn Owls? I can't.
As George Monbiot says: 'Among those in schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.'
It is, as Baroness Parminter (who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill) put it: 'a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild it ceases to be native.'
I am really struggling to understand this. What possible purpose does it serve? To me it just feels like yet another attack on our wild things from the very people who should be protecting them at a time when they need our help most.
Non-native and invasive species are a hot topic ecologically at the moment, but the truth is that apart from a few well documented species (American Mink, American Signal Crayfish for eg) we don't know enough about non-natives in the UK to really understand their position in our ecosystems. Some of our most-loved trees haven't been here all that long (think Beech and Sycamore), do we uproot them and prevent any more every growing here? It's a nonsense.
I feel a letter to my MP coming on....
I hope that's of some interest to all you wildlife-lovers out there. Makes you wonder what else is being sneaked in under our noses doesn't it?
I'll leave you with a pic of the Small Girl who has a New Coat, because she's had a haircut today and is pseudo-bald and feeling the cold as a result. If only her fur wouldn't get so matted and drive her mad with itchiness we could leave it on.....
Hope all are well?