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Set-Aside Land

Volume 281: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1996

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals or representations he has received from interested environmental organisations within the United Kingdom concerning modifications to the existing set-aside arrangements of the European Community which have the object of conserving beneficial wildlife at minimal or no additional cost to the scheme; and what actions he or other Government representatives have taken consequent to their receipt. [37344]

Following consultations with fanning and conservation organisations earlier this year, changes to the set-aside rules were announced in April aimed at benefiting wildlife, particularly ground-nesting birds. The principle changes announced were:

  • (i) a relaxation in the areas of set-aside which may be left uncut; and
  • (ii) from 1997, a ban on cutting set-aside between 15 April and 1 July when a non-selective herbicide has been used, and a ban on cultivating set-aside land before 1 July.
  • We have also pressed the European Commission to allow narrower strips of land to count as set-aside to enhance conservation in field margins.