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 user 2006-08-14 at 10:26:00 am Views: 84
  • #16026

    EU warns Poland over environment
    could face legal action and EU penalties for failing to “adequately
    protect” its natural habitats, a European Commission official has
    said.EC biodiversity expert Agata Zdanowicz said Poland had so far
    failed to comply with the EU’s Natura 2000 programme, describing the
    situation as “serious”.The Commission started an “infringement
    procedure” against Poland in April.This could lead to a court case and
    the blocking of EU funds for projects in Poland’s environmentally
    fragile areas.Natura 2000 is an EU-wide programme to safeguard the
    25-nation bloc’s most important wildlife areas and species.

    ‘Repair programme’
    of Europe’s mammal species, one-third of reptile, amphibian and fish
    species, as well as one-third of plant species are threatened with
    extinction, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).Poland is home
    to rare species such as bison, wolves, bears and eagles living in river
    valleys, wetlands and forests.The Commission rejected Poland’s
    proposals on Natura 2000 earlier this year, describing them as
    “significantly insufficient”.
    The proposals did not comply with the
    EU’s Birds and Habitats directives, Ms Zdanowicz, policy officer at the
    EC’s nature and biodiversity unit, told the BBC News website.Poland
    designated 72 sites as special protection areas under the Birds
    directive, but Ms Zdanowicz said the Commission was pushing for 140
    such sites.She said the situation was particularly “serious” with the
    implementation of the Habitats directive, which protects plant and
    animal species other than birds.She said Warsaw had so far failed to
    “adequately protect” some 85% of such sites.In April, the Commission
    launched the infringement procedure against Poland by sending it a
    written warning.Poland formally responded in July, and Ms Zdanowicz
    said EC experts were currently analysing the amended proposals.Both the
    EC and Polish officials are refusing to elaborate on the content of the
    new proposals, but Ms Zdanowicz said the EC could take the case to
    court if it deemed the plan to be inadequate.Polish Environment
    Ministry spokesman Slawomir Mazurek told the BBC News website that
    “some mistakes” had been made during the development of Natura 2000 for
    Poland.”Some areas have been appointed without a detailed knowledge of
    what is in them. Local governments do not agree on many of those
    areas,” Mr Mazurek said.He added that the ministry submitted to the EC
    what he described as “a repair programme”.

    Conservation row
    week, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski reignited the row by
    hinting at a possible downsizing of the programme.”Natura 2000 has
    expanded so much that it is practically impossible to build anything,”
    he said.His statement drew criticism from environmentalists, who said
    Poland needed to take urgent steps to protect its environment.Natura
    2000 protects 18% of land in the 15 countries that formed the EU before
    the expansion in 2004.The size and number of protected sites is
    currently being negotiated for each of the 10 new member states.The
    Commission has already warned 13 EU states over non-compliance with the
    bloc’s environmental directives