Wildlife

Status: On 15 October 2013 we published an interim statement, providing an update on the progress of this project. We published our final report on the control of invasive non-native species on 11 February 2014

Over the last decade, wildlife protection and the sustainable management of our natural heritage have become increasingly regarded as key policy aims for Government.  However, the legal framework for wildlife management is overly complicated, frequently contradictory and unduly prescriptive. Consequently, the law creates unnecessary barriers to effective wildlife management, including the efficient implementation and enforcement of Government policy.

The full project

The wildlife law project was proposed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the Law Commission’s 11th programme of law reform, effective from July 2011. In March 2012, the Department asked us to include consideration of appeals, and we have done so.

The project includes consideration of the law relating to the conservation, control, protection and exploitation of wildlife in England and Wales.  It does not include discussion of the law relating to habitats or the Hunting Act 2004.

We consulted widely on provisional proposals contained in a Consultation Paper published August 2012.

The project provided for a review point following consultation. In September 2013, DEFRA Ministers agreed that the project should continue to the next phase. This agreement does not necessarily mean that the Government agrees with the conclusions submitted to Ministers for the review.

On 15 October 2013, we published an interim statement. This interim statement outlines the key decisions we reached following consultation and reflects the review document submitted to Ministers as part of the review process.

The interim statement is not a further consultation, nor is it the analysis of consultation responses received, which will be published alongside the final report and proposed Law Commission draft Bill.

We intend to publish our final report and proposed Law Commission draft Bill, with the full consultation analysis, in late summer 2014.

Invasive non-native species control

On 11 February 2014, we published our final report, Wildlife Law: Control of Invasive Non-native Species. This is the first item to be delivered from the full project. This element of the project was brought forward at the request of Defra and the Welsh Government to enable them to consider whether to introduce early legislation.

Invasive non-native species are ones that arrive as a result of human action and cause environmental and economic damage. They pose a significant threat to ecosystems as well as damaging property and infrastructure.  Existing law does not contain sufficient powers to allow for their timely and effective control or eradication.  Our recommendations in relation to species control orders will allow for a proportionate and necessary response to an increasing problem.