The EU, Brexit and nature conservation law

Dr Margherita Pieraccini, Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol

Dr Margherita Pieraccini, Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol

The EU plays a fundamental role in shaping the environmental law regimes of its Member States and that of the UK is no exception. A significant proportion of current domestic environmental law derives from EU Regulations (that automatically become part of English law) and EU Directives (that are implemented through national legislation).

Nature conservation law, i.e. the legal regime used to protect environmentally significant habitats and species, is a case in point and the focus of this blog. Conserving nature is key not only from a purely biodiversity standpoint but also from an ‘ecosystem services’ perspective. Ecosystem services are the benefits nature brings to the environment and to people, including supporting services (e.g. nutrient cycling), provisioning services (e.g. food), regulating services (e.g. carbon capture) and cultural services (e.g. recreation).

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Power, policy and piranhas: Martin Bigg on energy

 

Professor Martin Bigg, Professor of Environmental Technology Innovation

When it comes to energy solutions, we need to be like Martin Bigg’s favourite fish; the piranha. Why do we need to be like a flesh-eating aquatic animal to get these solutions? Because being passive isn’t working.

Such was the closing message of Bigg’s talk at the Bristol Politics Café in the kitchen of The Station. Bigg’s talk entitled ‘Energy generation, use and denial’ was a well-integrated combination of academic analysis and challenging chit-chat about the UK’s energy enigmas.

While his concluding remark was engineered to influence our future actions, Bigg cleverly began with the UK’s energy past. He walked us through the history of UK energy supply, intertwining the physical processes of production with the bureaucracy and politics.
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GE 2015: Who will be the next ‘greenest government ever’? Nobody, probably.

Ed Atkins, Environment, Energy and Resilience (PhD)

Ed Atkins, Environment, Energy and Resilience (PhD)

In this election, rhetoric reigns supreme over policy pledges and manifestos. The result is the placing of certain story lines at the centre of election strategy, often at the expense of policy. We have all heard about Ed Miliband’s weirdness, Grant Shapps’ alter-ego and Nicola Sturgeon’s problematic Scottishness – but we are yet to hear about the environment.

Whilst the Green Surge may have pointed to the centrality of the environment in many of our political views and desires, it appears that the environment pledges of 2015’s manifestos have become embroiled in political decisions, electoral tactics and the influence of other policy areas.   The pledges of the parties all demonstrate the close-relation of energy and ecology with the key political issues of this election – such as housing, the cost-of-living and the EU. In this light, we must question how many of these policies are of a purely environmental nature – and are not social, economic and political moves dressed up as environmental pledges.

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