South East's nature safer if we Remain in the EU

Keith Taylor MEP: The green spaces we know and love in the South East are better protected thanks to EU nature laws, and with one month to go to the referendum on EU membership (23 June) Keith Taylor MEP is today putting nature at the centre of the campaign to Remain in the European Union. 

Fifty-five places in the South East are recognised by the EU as special areas of conservation – including, the RSPB nature reserve at Dungeness, the Wildlife Trusts site at Cothill Fen in Oxford, the Solent and Isle of Wight Lagoons, the South Downs National Park and the New Forest.

These natural areas are protected as part of a Europe-wide network of rare habitats and species. The South Downs contains one of the finest yew forests in Europe and is home to a grove of some of Britain’s most ancient trees whilst Cothill Fen supports outstanding examples of rare calcareous fens, mire communities and wetland habitats. Rare and endangered birds such as bitterns, Acadian flycatchers, Dartford warblers and shovelers visit Dungeness Nature Reserve and New Forest. Creatures like the soldier fly Odontomyia angulata, the Southern Damselfly, and the pygmy footman moth thrive in the Cothill Fens and Dungeness Nature Reserve.

Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East, is raising awareness of the benefits of EU nature protection as well as EU standards on air pollution, water quality and the environment.

The Green MEP said:

“Most people don’t realise that these iconic green spaces in the South East have special status under EU law – this gives them an important extra level of protection against development.

Our region is home to rare species of birds, trees and bugs. It is incredibly important to protect endangered species at the international level – animals and habitats we take for granted locally are often rare in Europe – and the European Union is absolutely the best place to work together with our neighbours to do this.

The EU status is an important additional safeguard to help make sure these places stay as nature intended, and we can all continue to enjoy them.

For our local environment, and also for cross-border challenges like air pollution and climate change, we are Greener In the European Union and it is vital we vote to Remain on 23rd June.”

There are a total of 270 sites in the UK which are part of the Europe-wide ‘Natura 2000’ network of protected areas. Nearly 11,000 square miles of Britain’s most precious wildlife sites are protected by this status, including iconic green spaces like Dartmoor, the North York Moors, Lindisfarne, the Cairngorms and the Severn Estuary. The ‘Greens for a Better Europe’ campaign is also drawing attention to the importance of EU action on environmental challenges like air pollution, climate change and cleaning up rivers and oceans. Thanks to EU rules the Thames and other rivers have been cleaned up. The EU is taking action against the UK government for failing to tackle air pollution in the South East.

Earlier this month, Keith Taylor visited RSPB Dungeness and the Wildlife Trust sites in Berks, Bucks and Oxon to speak to highlight the importance of EU nature protections.

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