Wake up to zom­bie laws

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

GROUP of MPS is call­ing for a new En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act to be in place be­fore Ar­ti­cle 50 is trig­gered to pre-empt the UK no longer be­ing sub­ject to EU direc­tives on birds and habi­tats. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­dit Com­mit­tee (EAC), chaired by for­mer Shadow De­fra Sec­re­tary Mary Creagh, warns against sleep­walk­ing into ‘zom­bie law’—eu law weak­ened through the Great Re­peal Bill. It says the Gov­ern­ment must not ‘trade away’ en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, an­i­mal wel­fare and food-safety stan­dards.

The CLA agrees with the sen­ti­ment, but thinks a new Act is go­ing too far. ‘The Gov­ern­ment should trans­pose ex­ist­ing EU com­mit­ments into UK law, then de­cide what needs to change, rather than cre­at­ing more con­fu­sion,’ ad­vises Christo­pher Price.

The le­gal chal­lenge is daunt­ing, with some 800 pieces of EU en­vi­ron­men­tal and farm­ing leg­is­la­tion to sort out. De­fra Sec­re­tary An­drea Lead­som es­ti­mates that two-thirds can be rolled for­ward with ‘just some tech­ni­cal chal­lenges’, but that the rest can’t. ‘We have a very clear court process that will ab­so­lutely be able to up­hold the leg­is­la­tion that we un­der­take to take into UK law through the Great Re­peal Bill,’ she ex­plains. The Na­tional Trust’s Patrick Begg warns the EAC that forc­ing UK farm­ers to com­pete with coun­tries such as Brazil or Ar­gentina could mean that the land­scape is ‘sac­ri­ficed on the al­tar of that com­pet­i­tive­ness tread­mill’. The NFU’S Guy Smith agrees, cit­ing the use of hor­mones in beef farm­ing in South Amer­ica. KG

ATrea­sury? I hae ma doots!’ com­mented MSP Calum Kerr. ‘Of course, we have to con­sult and ne­go­ti­ate, but there are huge ques­tions about core prin­ci­ples. This is why “Brexit means Brexit” is a bad state­ment. We need lead­er­ship.’ KG warmth-lov­ing in­sects and (con­se­quen­tially) their preda­tors.

‘In the 10 years we’ve been re­view­ing wildlife, we’ve no­ticed pulses of un­set­tled weather be­come the norm. We last en­joyed a good sum­mer in 2006,’ says Na­tional Trust na­ture ex­pert Matthew Oates, who also points out that com­mon-wasp num­bers have slumped in many parts of the coun­try, along with mead­ow­land in­sects such as the com­mon blue but­ter­fly. ‘This could have a knock-on ef­fect on the in­ver­te­brates, birds and bats that eat them. And what af­fects in­sects to­day could well af­fect us to­mor­row.

‘Long term,’ con­tin­ues Mr Oates, ‘changes in how we man­age land have led to wildlife de­clines, with more than half of species ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a drop in num­bers in the past 50 years, but one of the great suc­cesses of the past decade has been the way farm­ers and con­ser­va­tion­ists have worked to­gether to re­verse wildlife de­clines.’

The lap­wing may no longer ben­e­fit from Euro­pean pro­tec­tion

A ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of works by Rex Whistler, one of Bri­tain’s most ex­cep­tional, but over­looked 20th-cen­tury artists, goes on dis­play at the home of his fi­nal great art­work (a trompe l’oeil ‘Gothic vaulted’ en­trance hall), cre­ated be­fore he was killed in ac­tion dur­ing the Se­cond World War.

‘Rex Whistler: More than Mu­rals’ is at the Na­tional Trust’s Mot­t­is­font, Hamp­shire, from Jan­uary 14 to April 23 and in­cludes his paint­ings, por­traits, de­signs, il­lus­tra­tions for books and ad­ver­tise­ments, sketch-books and let­ters as well as per­sonal items in­clud­ing the artist’s paint­box.

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