NEW European laws designed to protect the environment across wide sweeps of the countryside will come into effect tomorrow (July 21) - much to the delight of conservationists and the chagrin of the construction industry.
Schemes for new roads or housing estates can only be built now after assessments of their future impact on landscape and wildlife but the new Euro Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) will force planners to take an overview of wide swathes of countryside – such as entire river valleys – before allowing developments to go ahead.
One of the key subjects for study will be the effect of new housing on local water supplies. This has become a major problem in many parts of Britain and one of the worst hit spots is the East Riding of Yorkshire where whole lengths of some rivers have dried up because of water extraction.
The new legislation has been greeted with delight by conservationists. Says Simon Marsh of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds "This legislation is coming none too soon and, if applied properly, will considerably strengthen protection for the countryside, birds and other wildlife"
However, it will cause major headaches for planners – and the construction industry will look upon as yet another bundle of Euro red-tape to increase costs.