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Nature Conservation: Biodiversity

Volume 473: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans he has to replace the Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund; and what guidance he is providing to organisations that were in receipt of financial assistance from the fund on alternative funding streams; (192679)

(2) if he will make an assessment of the likely effect on (a) landscapes important for biodiversity and (b) employment of the ending of the Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund.

Natural England will make an announcement about any successor scheme to Countdown 2010 in April. However, Natural England will shortly launch Access to Nature, a £25 million grant scheme jointly funded with the Big Lottery. Many projects previously funded by Countdown 2010 will be eligible for this new scheme and guidance about the grant scheme can be found on Natural England’s website. Natural England is also seeking to identify additional funding for priority biodiversity habitats and species.

I expect Natural England to evaluate the likely impact on landscapes rich in biodiversity, which results from the end of the Countdown 2010 grant scheme. This evaluation will help to inform how Natural England determines priorities for its grant-in-aid in 2008-09.

As all existing Countdown 2010 projects were for a two-year period, I do not anticipate that their conclusion will have any effect on permanent employment.