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Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) Network Rail and (b) the Highways Agency on rabbit infestation on land owned or controlled by each; and if he will make a statement. (244411)

On behalf of DEFRA, Natural England generally advises on and deals with complaints concerning rabbit infestations. In the past three years, officials from DEFRA and/or Natural England and previously the Rural Development Service, have dealt with 23 individual cases involving rabbits harboured on railway property. These have all been discussed with Network Rail at a local or regional level. A meeting was held at national level in June 2006 and Natural England are currently arranging a further meeting with Network Rail at national level for early in 2009 to discuss rabbit control on their property.

In the past three years, officials have discussed three cases with the Highways Agency at a local or regional level relating to rabbit infestations on road verges. There are currently no plans to meet with the Highways Agency at a national level. In addition, officials have discussed nine cases with local council highway departments.