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TRANSPORT : GUIDELINES ON RECONCILING NATURE PROTECTION AND INLAND WATERWAYS.

Reconciling protection of the environment and the imperatives of inland waterways: such is the European Commission's aim - with guidelines to boot, published on 18 October. The guidelines - Inland waterway transport and Natura 2000 - sustainable inland waterway development and management in the context of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives' - explain how best to ensure that activities related to inland navigation are compatible with EU environmental policy in general and nature legislation in particular. The document emphasises the significance of inland navigation for securing long-term sustainability of the EU transport network and highlights the achievements of this sector in integrating nature protection into its activities to date. Janez Potocnik, commissioner for environment, hopes that the document will be "a useful tool to increase understanding between investors, planners, decision makers and nature conservation promoters, enabling them to design sustainable navigation projects that meet the objectives of inland waterway transport while still respecting the ecological values of rivers". The guidelines take a holistic approach to inland waterway transport and nature protection. They explain the policy context of inland navigation and biodiversity conservation in Europe. The Commission stresses that "Natura 2000 sites are not designed to be no development zones' and that new developments are not excluded, provided that they guarantee a sufficient level of nature protection".

The guidelines(1) particularly emphasise the benefits of integrated planning, whereby environmental requirements are taken into consideration at every stage of the infrastructure development process and the participation of different stakeholders, including NGOs and civil society, is ensured in an "active and transparent manner," securing win-win solutions for both sides. The document explains the legal obligations of infrastructure developers and managers from the point of view of EU environmental legislation, with a particular focus on the Birds and Habitats Directives.

A number of case studies are presented, with examples of good practice showing how inland waterway development and management can go hand-in-hand with nature protection.

(1) The document is available at ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/IWT_BHD_Guidelines.pdf

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Nov 2, 2012
Words:336
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