The final day of the Triffids
New powers to eradicate damaging foreign plants and animals will soon come into effect after receiving Royal Assent.
Reforms recommended by the Law Commission form part of the Infrastructure Act 2015 and will seek to reverse the destruction wreaked on fragile ecosystems by non-native species.
As well as causing significant environmental and economic harm, the biological imports have also been responsible for damage to property and infrastructure.
The reforms have significantly strengthened the law, which it was previously suggested did not contain sufficient powers to allow for the timely and effective control or eradication of non-native species.
The legislation will give the relevant environmental authorities in England and Wales the power to issue species control orders, which will make it possible to compel land owners to act in certain circumstances.
However, the orders will only be issued when an agreement cannot be reached and action is urgently required, or when a plant or animal has been identified as both ‘invasive’ and ‘non-native’.
Breaching a species control order will be a criminal offence, but owners or occupiers will have the right to appeal.
The Law Commissioner for public law, Nicholas Paines QC, said the new powers were a “proportionate and necessary response to an increasing problem.”
“Invasive non-native species are a threat to biodiversity. Early detection and eradication are essential to protect native species and minimise damage to the environment.
“There is also an economic price to pay, with some invasive plants and animals capable of causing significant damage to property and costing a great deal to control and remove.
“It is in everyone’s interest if the relevant environmental authorities and landowners can reach an agreement that allows for invasive non-native species to be eradicated or controlled. But where this is not possible, species control orders offer a fair solution.
“We are delighted that government has given effect to our recommendation to introduce these new powers,” he added.
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