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Environmentally Sensitive Areas

Volume 116: debated on Friday 15 May 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now able to announce the identity of the environmenttally sensitive areas which will be designated in England in 1988.

Following the very promising response which farmers have made in the first set of areas, I have decided to designate all of the remaining areas on the shortlist which the Countryside Commission and Nature Conservancy Council submitted to me last year. This means that we shall be introducing new environmentally sensitive areas in Breckland, the North peak, the Suffork river valleys, the Test valley, the Shropshire borders (Clun) and the western part of the South downs. Interested organisations in these areas will be consulted before the designating orders are laid towards the end of this year.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give the extent, in hectares, of each environmentally sensitive area in England and Wales as designated on 1 March; and if he will indicate how many farmers he estimates will be eligible to receive payments for entering into management agreements in each area.

We estimate that the total size of each environmentally sensitive area is a follows. However, these figures include urban and other land which is not in agricultural use or is otherwise ineligible. It is not yet possible to give reliable figures for agricultural areas or for the total number of farmers in each ESA. I hope that such figures will be available when the areas have been fully surveyed later this year.

The Broads (including Halvergate)29,870
Pennine Dales15,900
Somerset Levels26,970
South Downs26,600
West Penwith7,200
Cambrian Mountains75,000

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers have entered into management agreements with him in each of the environmentally sensitive areas in England and Wales.

The latest available figures for the number of applications that we have received in each area are as follows:

The Broads400
The Pennine Dales220
Somerset Levels560
South Downs55
West Penwith142
Cambrian Mountains90

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farm development plans, drawn up under the agriculture and horticulture development scheme and the agriculture improvement scheme, are currently in operation in each environmentally sensitive area in England and Wales; and what steps his Department proposes to take to ensure that planned developments which may conflict with the objectives of each environmentally sensitive area will not be allowed to go ahead.

We have no comprehensive record of the number of development and improvement plans currently in force in environmentally sensitive areas. Where approval to such plans was given before the designation of the area the Ministry will honour its commitment to the farmer. Since designation all applications for new plans and variations to existing plans have been referred to the relevant project officer. Such applications are accepted only if they do not contain work which would undermine the environmentally sensitive area.