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Seaforth Docks Bird Reserve

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what types of birds and what size of population are supported in the bird reserve in Seaforth Docks; and if she will make a statement. [116610]

Seaforth Nature Reserve, owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, and managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, is of national, European and international importance for the numbers of redshank (1,590 individuals) and turnstone (760 individuals) it supports in winter, and of national and European importance for its population of breeding common tern (124 pairs), a species listed in Annex Ito the EC Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). The aforementioned population numbers are average counts from the period 1994–95 1998–99 for the two wintering species, and the period 1996 –2000 for breeding common terns. These were the most recently available data used to justify the inclusion of part of Seaforth Docks within the Mersey Narrows and North Wirral Foreshore potential Special Protection Area (in accordance with the EC Birds Directive 79/409/EEC) and Ramsar site (in accordance with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat 1971).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the condition of the flood defence measures on the Sefton coastline from Formby pinewoods to Seaforth Docks. 1116608]

Defra provides grant aid on capital flood and coastal defence projects that meet specified criteria and an appropriate priority score. Operational responsibility for planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of defence measures rests with the operating authorities—normally the Environment Agency (EA), local councils and internal drainage boards—which have the relevant local knowledge. They also identify the need for defence measures and decide which projects to promote and their timing.Defra also encourages operating authorities to take a strategic approach to coastal defence measures. I understand that both Sefton Council and the EA, who are responsible for lengths of this coastline, are preparing coastal defence strategies which will, inter alia, take into account the condition of defences and seek to identify sustainable measures. Defra is providing grant to the Council towards the cost of related studies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the condition and management of the SSSI sites between Formby pinewoods and Seaforth Docks. [116609]

Formby Pinewoods to Seaforth Docks is part of the Sefton Coast SSSI, which extends for over 20 km between Southport and Crosby covering a total area of 4605.32 ha. 3834.81 ha of the SSSI is recorded as being in favourable or recovering condition and 770.51 ha is recorded as being in unfavourable condition.Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council is the largest single owner/manager with English Nature, The National Trust, MoD and five golf courses are responsible for other substantial areas. These partners are guided by "The Sefton Coast Management Strategy 1999" and "The Sefton Coast Management Plan 1997–2006",which have been agreed in consultation with English Nature.Seaforth Docks is located within the 117.84 ha of Mersey Narrows SSSI which covers both sides of the mouth of the Mersey Estuary. Seaforth Docks is recorded as being in favourable condition with the last condition assessment completed in May 2000, prior to notification.The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is the owner of the SSSI area within the Seaforth Docks. This site is currently under positive management for nature conservation by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust as agreed and consented by English Nature.