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Defend Nature - an urgent call to action

Castle Hill (Special Area of Conservation), Brighton © 2010 Barbara Woods Castle Hill (Special Area of Conservation), Brighton © 2010 Barbara Woods

The air we breathe, food we eat, water we drink, and even the natural habitats and landscapes we enjoy, these are just a few of the essential benefits of nature that contribute to our health and well-being. In Europe, the Birds Directive, Habitat Directive and the Natura 2000 network of designated conservation sites have served us well for decades in protecting and enhancing the natural environment. However, these laws are under threat of being weakened through the European Commission's REFIT review, which is evaluating whether the existing nature regulations are fit for purpose.

The potential impact of watering down these directives could have far reaching and damaging effects on our countryside and future developments throughout Sussex: from whether it would make new road building more likely; weaken environmental considerations against Gatwick runway expansion; or result in less protection for nature conservation in Sussex local plans.

How you can help Defend Nature

A public consultation is now taking place up until 24th July 2015 and this is where you can help to protect nature and our iconic natural habitats and landscapes in Sussex and throughout Europe by letting the Commission know how important the EU Nature Laws are for nature, people and business. CPRE National Office will be responding to the consultation from a national perspective and CPRE Sussex Countryside Trust along with 100 other conservation organisations across Europe, including Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Birdlife International, WWF and the Wildlife Trusts, are joining together to ask those who care about the future of our wildlife and landscapes to take a few minutes to respond to the consultation.

You can voice your opinions by responding to the European Commission's e-consultation by going to the template on the Nature Alert site at which has provided suggested responses to part 1 of the consultation, consisting of 14 questions, as well as more information about the campaign to Defend Nature. Simply fill in your details and click the button to send your response.

If you wish to complete the European Commission e-consultation yourself via the EC website then go to

Also we are asking members who are interested in planning to look at the Natura 2000 sites that are in their district and identify any proposed or current planning applications that might be affected by a weakening of the Birds and Habitats Directives. To aid in this we have produced a map of the designated conservation sites in Sussex, shown below:

We would ask you if you can to help spread the word about this campaign as quickly as possible by using social media.

Share this campaign on Facebook.


Share this campaign on Twitter.


Silver Studded Blue Plebejus argus found in Ashdown Forest (SAC / SPA) © 2015 Barbara Woods

More information:

CPRE Sussex Countryside Trust volunteer, Barbara Woods, is working on the campaign through Friends of the Earth / Mid Sussex Friends of the Earth, in conjunction with liaising with Sussex Wildlife Trust and CPRE National Office. She has been posting on Mid Sussex Friends of the Earth Facebook page and other sites and will be providing updates in the coming weeks.

You may like to read the Wildlife and Countryside LINK joint statement on behalf of those organisations supporting the campaign at, which outlines why it is important to ensure that the regulations are not diminished.

Also Ian Hepburn who is Head of Conservation at Sussex Wildlife Trust has recently written a blog on the review at

Details about the REFIT review can be found on the European Commission website at and information about the Birds Directive, Habitats Directive and Natura 2000 network can be found on the EU Nature Legislation page at


Birds Directive

Habitats Directive

Natura 2000

European Commission REFIT review

Wildlife and Countryside LINK statement

Nature Alert webpage

Friends of the Earth Defend Nature Campaign

Mid Sussex Friends of the Earth Facebook page

Sussex Wildlife Trust's Ian Hepburn blog on Defend Nature campaign

Wildlife Trusts Defend Nature page 

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