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Volume 201: debated on Wednesday 15 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many farms were initially put on the restricted list following the radioactive fallout contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986; if he will list the number of farms and their respective acreage taken off the list in each subsequent year; and what steps he is taking to restore to full usage the remaining farms.

Restrictions were first introduced in Wales in June 1986 and affected about 5,100 holdings and approximately 1,013,000 acres of land. During 1986 and 1987 some 4,684 holdings and approximately 804,000 acres were derestricted, with a further nine holdings and approximately 4,000 acres derestricted in 1991.The extent of the restrictions depends on the levels of radioactivity found in sheep grazing the area. Monitoring results from sheep leaving the restricted area, under the mark and release scheme, and results from regular monitoring of sheep at selected sites throughout the restricted area are continually assessed. This information assists in the identification of suitable locations for intensive monitoring to assess the prospects for derestriction. As a result of these procedures I was able to lift restrictions on nine holdings in 1991. Work, including research and development, will continue to be carried out to achieve further derestrictions as soon as it can be shown that it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, the "mark and release" arrangements are designed to ensure that normal sheep farming practices within the restricted area continue with the minimum of disruption consistent with the protection of the foodchain.