Proposals out for consultation

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The Department of the Environment has published a consultation on proposals to make updated and consolidated ‘Habitats Regulations’.

The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (‘the Habitats Regulations’) transpose the requirements of the EC ‘Habitats’ Directive and aspects of the ‘Wild Birds’ Directive.

Since they were originally made in 1995, the Habitats Regulations have been subject to amendment on six separate occasions. The last set of amendments was made in 2012.

In order to improve transparency and legal clarity it has been decided to undertake this ‘consolidation’ exercise in order to bring the original set of regulations and the subsequent six sets of amendments together into one comprehensive statute. The closing date for responses is 30 January 2015. For more information – www.caireland.org

The Hunting Act in England and Wales – Ten years on

An Update From Barney White–Spunner, Executive Chairman, Countryside Alliance

This year will be very significant for us all; February will mark 10 years since the Hunting Act came into force in England and Wales and, because of the way the hunting world has conducted itself in the past decade, if there is a favourable result in the General Election in May, there could be a real opportunity to establish a sound and permanent future for hunting. Media coverage of Boxing Day meets reported a 250,000 turnout across the country, showing the strength of support hunting still enjoys.

We must also be mindful of all the other challenges facing the countryside, not least the growing threats to shooting from those who regard it as in some way cruel and elitist. To counter the criticism I would urge everyone who supports shooting to read the 2014 Value of Shooting report and never shy away from repeating the statistics: shooting is worth £2 billion to the UK economy; shooters spend £2.5 billion each year on goods and services; shooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full time jobs and is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area. We must all be on the front foot for shooting and take every opportunity to talk about the benefits it brings to the countryside.

Ahead of the General Election we have laid out our key priorities for all candidates in our General Election Manifesto which is broad in scope. The Manifesto lists digital communications, food and farming, wildlife management, rural communities and rural services as its five headings, with statistics and detail for each. You can download the document at www.countryside-alliance.org - it forms a blueprint for our campaigning work this year. Countryside Alliance colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Ireland will also be campaigning on these and other devolved political issues and will keep you updated on their work.

We are extremely grateful for the help and generosity of our supporter base, not least those who actively campaign and raise funds for us, including the hardy souls taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon in April.