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RSPB response to the OEP’s Investigation into Special Protection Areas for Wild Birds

Today the OEP and ESS announced they were launching an investigations into Special Protection Areas for wild birds: OEP Launches Investigations into Special Protection Areas for Wild Birds | Office for Environmental Protection (

Responding to this:

Katie-Jo Luxton, conservation director at the RSPB said: “The UK’s wildlife is in trouble, almost half of our species are in decline and one in six is at risk of being lost completely from our land, sea and sky. We are in a nature and climate emergency and our network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) should be fundamental to our efforts to halt and reverse wildlife decline.

“These are the areas that have been identified as being critical for wildlife. And yet nothing has been done to address the shortcomings of the UK’s network of SPAs despite over two decades of reports and recommendations to the four governments of the UK from their own advisors. Some are in poor condition, clear recommendations for the governance and adaptation of existing SPAs have been accepted but not acted on, and significant gaps in the network – both on land and at sea, remain unfilled.

“As an example, our seabirds they leave their nests to feed out at sea they remain largely unprotected. The failure to protect of their foraging areas at sea is a major concern given serious declines in many seabird populations and has also led to conflicts which could have been avoided, slowing down consents for marine development such as offshore wind. 

“For too long the environment and restoration of nature has been treated like a problem for the future to resolve. We welcome and fully support the launch of investigations by the OEP and ESS for England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. We hope that their investigations will address the issues both on land and at sea, and that the Interim Assessor for Wales will follow suit, and will drive urgent action so long overdue. Nature can’t wait.”