Is the Government wild enough about the Wildlife Bill?
Landowners should take note. The Bill is not intended to introduce new law but there is a new offence that landowners should be aware of.
The Law Commission recently published a draft Wildlife Bill that aims to consolidate and simplify the complex framework of legislation that protects wildlife species in England and Wales.
Potential offence for landowners
The draft Wildlife Bill introduces a new offence of knowingly causing or permitting another person under your control to commit an offence under the new regime.
The concept of "knowingly causing or permitting" has been more widely used in other environmental legislation, particularly for waste. This new offence has been broadly welcomed by countryside groups after much lobbying because the Bill does not introduce vicarious liability. This is a relief for employers as vicarious liability would have meant that an employer could have been held responsible for the actions or omissions of an employee.
Is this law in force yet?
No, it is only a Bill so the new law is not in force yet.
The question remains as to when the legislation might be introduced. The Law Commission prepared its report and the draft legislation at the request of our previous coalition government and it is not clear whether the current government intends to bring the legislation forward.
If enacted, the Wildlife Bill will allow the Secretary of State to repeal twelve acts of parliament. Though the Bill was not mentioned in the Queen's speech 2015, the simplification and consolidation of the current complex and confusing legislation may mean the draft Bill appeals to the landowner supporters of our current government.
Comments from the CLA can be read here
Information on the Law Commission’s report on a new Wildlife Bill can be found here
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors