Government could force landowners to kill nature’s invaders or face jail
Tuesday 11 February 2014
People who try to stop officials exterminating “invasive species” such as parakeets, ruddy ducks and Japanese knotweed on their property should face a prison sentence, under proposals drawn up by the Law Commission.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and other bodies would be given the power to force landowners or occupiers to either control or destroy the animals themselves or allow the authorities to step in.
The Law Commission proposed people breaking a “species control order” could be jailed for as long as six months or fined up to £40,000.
Nicholas Paines QC, the Law Commissioner leading on the project, said: “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 governmental bodies and landowners can reach an agreement that allows for invasive non-native species to be eradicated or controlled. But this is not always possible. Species control orders are a proportionate and necessary response to an increasing problem.”
Owners or occupiers subject to a species control order would have the right to appeal to a tribunal and, where relevant, would be compensated for any damage caused by the eradication work.
The orders could be issued only if the plant or animal was identified as a non-native and also invasive, which means it poses a serious threat to local biodiversity or economy.
The idea that plants or animals are non-native is not without controversy.
In 2009, Professor Christopher Smout, Scotland's Historiographer Royal and the founder of the Institute for Environmental History at St Andrews University, said that the concept was “culturally-determined” and that attempts to preserve the genetic identity of British wildlife were “quasi-racist”.
“The preoccupation with alien species is comparatively recent and not something which worried scientists and ecologists 50 years ago,” said Professor Smout. “They were concerned with pests. In recent times, the emphasis has been on the fact these pests are aliens and it has tended to a blanket condemnation to all species not classed as natives.”
He defended the presence of the ruddy duck, an American species accidentally released from the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire in the 1950s.
“Conservationists are up in arms because they fear the ducks will all get turned into some kind of mish-mash,” Professor Smout said. “The conservationists would say 'We're doing this because it is endangering the genetic integrity of the white-headed duck'.
“I don't think that's a scientifically valid point of view. The concern with genetic integrity seems almost quasi-racist. Our attitude towards alien species is culturally determined and sometimes you end up with rather bizarre actions by scientists.”
Drunk wasps may attack us, warns Red Cross
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Vital invertebrates decline by 45 per cent, study finds
Britain faces malaria risk as climate change sees mosquitoes thriving in garden water butts
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
- 1 Secret Cinema interview: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require Primar...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...