HC Deb 01 March 1984 vol 55 c386
21. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will instruct the Forestry Commission not to sell land in England designated as sites of special scientific interest.

Mrs. Fenner

The transfer from public to private ownership of land designated as an SSSI does not affect such designation or the protection given by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. My right hon. Friend does not propose therefore to instruct the Forestry Commission to exclude such land from the disposals programme.

Mr. Carlisle

Will my hon. Friend accept that local trusts for nature conservation feel that they must bid for this land, thus using their scarce resources, which should be used for their many other vital activities to protect the countryside within their area? Will she look at this problem sympathetically?

Mrs. Fenner

I assure my hon. Friend, in the terms of the original answer I gave, that I cannot accept that private ownership prejudices the nature of the SSSI. I am well aware that some conservation groups clearly hold different views, but I am trying to reassure them that this is not so.