RSPB alarm at review of habitat and birds protection
Wildlife charities say news of a review of EU rules protecting habitats is "very alarming" and could water down vital protections for wildlife.
George Osborne told MPs he wanted to make sure that "gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats" were not putting "ridiculous costs" on firms.
Later, the government announced it would review the implementation of the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives.
Charities said important protections should not be "brushed aside".
In his Autumn Statement on Tuesday, Mr Osborne said he was worried about the impact of some EU rules on UK firms and warned against pricing "British business out of the world economy".
"If we burden them with endless social and environmental goals - however worthy in their own right - then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer," he said.
"We will make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats aren't placing ridiculous costs on British businesses."
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced it would be reviewing the impact of the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives in England "focusing in particular on those obligations that affect the authorisation process for proposed development, with a view to reducing the burdens on business while maintaining the integrity of the purpose of the directives".
The RSPB suspects that the review is aimed at watering down environmental protections, to the benefit of business and says there must be no weakening of protection for important species.
RSPB conservation director Martin Harper told BBC Radio 4 the charity was "still reeling" from Tuesday's announcement and said the chancellor's rhetoric was "incredibly unhelpful".
Source: BBC News - read more