§ 16. Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he intends taking to give greater protection to bird sanctuaries and estuarial basins threatened by reclamation for agricultural cultivation.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The Nature Conservancy Council is already preparing advice on the adequacy of existing powers and resources. My right hon. Friends and I shall consider what action may be necessary in the light of its report and of consultations with all affected interests.
§ Mr. Ross
May I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister on his quick response to the appeals in the House to deal with the situation on the Ribble 955 estuary? Would not making the use of land for agricultural reclamation subject to planning permission cover the situation? Can we not do that quickly?
§ Mr. Howell
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his congratulations. Discussions about the Ribble estuary are proceeding with the speed and degree of concern that the whole House would wish. We are looking at the planning aspect, although not necessarily as the exclusive way of dealing with the problems.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the price to be paid by the Nature Conservancy Council to acquire the land on the Ribble estuary will he fixed by the district valuer and will not be £4 million as rumoured around my constituency?
§ Mr. Howell
My hon. Friend is right. I was grateful for his support when I went to Ribble to investigate these matters. The price has to he fixed by the district valuer, who on 20th October received the necessary information that he had requested from the vendor in order to make that valuation.