DEFRA moots two-year prison term for invasive species abuses

The government is seeking views on how best to manage the most dangerous invasive species in England and Wales, including through the introduction of fines and prison sentences for the worst breaches of controls designed to prevent their release into the environment.

In a consultation launched last week with the Welsh government, DEFRA said its proposals would reduce the impact that 14 of the worst invasive species -  including giant hogweed and Himalyan balsam - are having on native biodiversity in England and Wales.

Invasive non-native species harm native biodiversity and cost the British economy around £1.8bn every year, according to DEFRA. In the EU and the UK, invasives are handled under the Invasive Alien Species Regulation 2015, which includes a list of  49 invasive species blacklisted in the EU, including well-known invaders such as the Asian hornet and the American grey squirrel.

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