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Sustainable Development

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what resources he has allocated to ensure that the target that 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites should be in or approaching favourable condition by 2016 is met. (102351)

An additional £150,000 was allocated to EHS towards the designation and management of Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in this financial year.

Land management practices that are considered necessary to maintain or improve the scientific features of statutory designated sites are secured by Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) through the Management of Sensitive Sites scheme (MOSS) it administers.

A recent review of the MOSS scheme has indicated that appropriate land management practices may also be secured through the application of agri-environment schemes operated by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme, and the possible use of this additional avenue for securing the improved management of designated sites is presently being examined by both Departments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the basis was for the decision to delay the Public Service Agreement target in the Sustainable Development Strategy that 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites should be in or approaching favourable condition until 2016. (102367)

The target to bring 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites into favourable, or approaching favourable, condition by 2013 was withdrawn as a Public Service Agreement target in 2003.

The monitoring of Areas of Special Scientific Interest as part of the UK’s Common Standards Monitoring programme is ongoing in Northern Ireland and the first full monitoring cycle of ASSIs will be completed in 2008. The results of the first three years of this monitoring have revealed that two thirds of features within designated sites are in favourable condition, but the other third are in unfavourable condition.

Restoring those features that are in unfavourable condition will be a challenging task and given that we are dealing with natural processes, any restorative measures put in place will need time to take effect and achieve the desired results.