UK government planning new green laws

Annual parliamentary session launched with promise to legislate on transport, countryside

The UK government will propose legal reforms during the next year aiming at a greener transport system and enhanced protection for natural habitats, Queen Elizabeth II announced today. At the parliament's traditional state opening for the 1999/2000 session, the government confirmed that it would publish early next year a bill on countryside amenity and conservation, which would improve public access and strengthen legal protection for sites protected because of their conservation value, known as sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). All sites designated by the UK under the EU's habitats and wild birds directive are first nominated as SSSIs. Too many of these sites are being damaged by inappropriate management practices, British environmental groups argue. Meanwhile, a forthcoming transport bill is expected to take forward plans announced in a white paper last year to aim for a greener transport system (ENDS Daily 21 July 1998). Environment minister John Prescott has faced strong criticism from opposition parties and the environmental movement over the last year for allegedly "failing to deliver" on promises made in the white paper.

Follow Up:
UK prime minister's office, tel: +44 171 930 4433; UK environment ministry, tel: +44 171 890 3000.

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