'Alien species' are considered animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms that come from outside European territory and in many cases pose a threat to local biodiversity and ecosystems. Invasive alien species cause at least £1.7 billion worth of damage in Europe every year, mainly to our farms, forests and fishing industries.
Scottish MEP David Martin and his Labour colleagues voted today to protect Britain's biodiversity from invasive alien species by opting to support a blacklist of the worst species that cause the most damage.
Speaking from Strasbourg Mr Martin said:
‘So far, the preventative measures we have in place do not go far enough, and this is why MEPs today passed a regulation to prevent and manage the introduction and spread of those invasive alien species which can have a negative impact on the environment, human health or our agricultural industries.
‘Japanese knotweed is already widespread in Britain, causing havoc for local councils to remove.
‘With these new rules, we want to better manage these invasions, and also prevent things like water hyacinth - which clogs up waterways; the Asian tiger mosquito - which spreads disease; and the coypu - a kind of river rat which causes havoc to farmers as it eats crops, from getting a foothold in the UK in the first place.’
Mr Martin added:
‘Invasive alien species can also be carriers of diseases or directly cause health problems and are considered to be a serious factor in the loss of biodiversity - second only to habitat loss - and a major cause of species extinction.
‘The new law puts in place a framework for cooperating with other EU countries to manage problem plants and animals before they become a problem, and will prevent the sale and growing of nuisance plants, which will save the cost of councils having to remove them later.’