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Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many acres of moorland grazing on Exmoor have been improved with the aid of Ministry grants in the last five years; and whether he is satisfied that the provisions of Section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968 are acted upon within his Department.

Of the 41,800 acres within the critical amenity area on Exmoor, the area of natural moorland, it is estimated that about 650 acres have been improved with the aid of Ministry grant in the last five years, although there were variations from year to year. These improvements were all the subject of prior consultation and agreement by the applicants with the Exmoor National Park Authority.Section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968 requires every Minister, Government Department and public body to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside. Officers of my Land Service, whose training in the Ministry includes landscape evaluation, are under standing instructions to take the requirements of Section 11 into consideration when inspecting for approval applications for grant made under the capital grant schemes and to certify that they have done so on their inspection report.