Brexit could endanger Wimbledon Common and rare stag beetles warns London’s Green MEP

Wimbledon Common’s protected status would be in jeopardy if Brexit occurs, warned London’s Green MEP yesterday.

Jean Lambert, who lives in Walthamstow Forest, yesterday visited Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park to raise awareness of the EU’s protection of London’s green spaces.

Her campaign centred on the five sites in London that have ‘Natura 2000’ status under the EU Habitats Directive or the EU Birds Directive.

The MEP said: “It’s about looking after endangered species and making sure there is a habitat there.

“If you don’t have those additional international protections you’re always relying on your national government which changes.”

The campaigner stated that the directives safeguard the environment from any threatening developments and offer compensatory measures and conservationist advice if construction does proceed.

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Wimbledon Common has a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) status under the EU Habitats Directive particularly due to its wet and dry heaths and stag beetle population.

Richmond Park’s SAC status, under the EU Habitats Directive, is similarly a consequence of its stag beetle population.

John Boyd, a Green Party member who is supporting Wimbledon Common’s conservation, said: “It’s a tremendous asset. It’s very good that somebody is preserving it.

“I don’t think it’s widely known that the EU play a role in that. “

The two parks do have protections and designations in UK law but are provided with an extra level of protection under EU law.

Another Green party member, Charles Barraball, who pole walks every week at the common, said: “We’ve got skylarks and other birds nesting on Wimbledon Common.

“It’s tens of years since I heard a skylark up there and it would be magical to hear them again.

“And I want my children to hear that – I want to hear that.

“I think were it not for the EU, we would get very little encouragement from the Tories or the Labour party to produce that climate.”

London has five sites protected under either the EU Habitats Directive or the EU Birds Directive.

Habitats directive covers Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, Epping Forest. And the birds directive covers Kempton Nature Reserve and Lee Valley in east London.

Ms Lambert commented on the Green’s leadership candidacy which has faced speculation since Natalie Bennett announced her resignation on May 15.

The MEP did not offer support to any specific candidates but said: “I think Natalie has done a great job. If she wanted to do another two [years], the party would have backed her on that.”

“Let’s hope the next person we have is as good.”

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