in European Union

Biodiversity offsetting makes dreams come true – for developers

Five years ago, the European environment commissioner Stavros Dimas warned that biodiversity loss posed a threat as serious as climate change. But the EU continues to lose biodiversity.

“The reasons that we are losing biodiversity are well known,” Dimas noted. “Destruction of habitats, pollution, over-exploitation, invasive species and, most recently, climate change.”

Instead of stopping the destruction of habitats, the EU is currently considering ways of allowing the destruction to continue while claiming to be addressing the loss of biodiversity. The plans is called “No Net Loss” and it relies on the hairbrained idea of biodiversity offsets. Developers will be allowed to destroy habitats as long as they pay to create a new habitat somewhere else.

Last year, more than 140 organisations signed a No to Biodiversity Offsetting statement.

Until 17 October 2014, the EU is holding a public consultation on biodiversity offsetting. Tell them why you oppose biodiversity offsetting.

The NGOs Carbon Trade Watch, Counterbalance, FERN, Re:Common and World Development Movement are campaigning against biodiversity offsetting. You can sign on to their letter to the European Commission here.

And they’ve produced this mockumentary to highlight the sheer lunacy of biodiversity offsetting:

While the video is fiction, several controversial biodiversity offset project are proposed in the UK. Last month, FERN and Friends of the Earth compiled a series of case studies of biodiversity offsets in the UK, France and Australia. Here are three of the UK cases:

Housing development, North Tyneside

The development will cause irreversible damage to Gosforth Park, a Site of Scientific Special Importance, one of the few remaining nearby green spaces not already converted to golf courses or other development. The housing plan was rejected by the planning authority, but Bellway Homes and the Environment Bank cooked up a biodiversity offsetting proposal that was approved by the Secretary of State.

High Speed 2 rail network

2014-07-10-134636_190x189_scrotForty ancient woodlands are threatened by the HS2. The developer behind the project has produced offsetting proposals. Sarah Walters, Local woodland manager of Alvecote Wood, points out, “Using offsetting to justify the destruction that HS2 will bring is simply wrong – you cannot replace these precious habitats.”

Motorway Service Station, Sheffied

2014-07-10-134647_349x371_scrotExtra Motorway Services has lodged an application to build a motorway service station, car park and slip road on top of Smithy Woods; new trees would be planted nearby as part of a biodiversity offsetting scheme. FERN and FoE point out that it will take more than 850 years before the new trees have the same ecological value as the ancient woodland that would be destroyed.

Leave a Reply

  1. I filled out the public consultation and in the end you get the question if you want to be contacted by the EC for follow-up. But you are never asked for your email address…
    Guess that is how the EC communicates with its citizens; in one direction only. And we’ll have to Google the results in a year from now. A pity to see this happening in public consultation on such an important topic.