10. Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what opportunity there will be for the residents around Strangford Lough in its future management following the declaration of the three areas of specific scientific interest for the lough.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Bottomley)
Resident owners and users continue to manage their land.
Is the Minister aware of the concern of many people around Strangford Lough about the declaration of the site of special scientific interest, and the proposals for a marine nature reserve? Does the Minister agree that the people who use the lough, those who farm around it and the residents should be involved in its management? I know that the Minister's officials met the 1107 Strangford Lough Nature Conservation Association this morning, but does not he agree that the best prospects for conservation would be to involve the local people? Therefore, will he agree personally to meet that association, which is now supported by more than 300 residents from around Strangford Lough?
§ Mr. Bottomley
There would be much more of a fuss if we had not declared the foreshore to be an area of special scientific interest. If we were not moving towards establishing a marine nature reserve, there would also rightly he a fuss. Most of the concerns are totally misplaced, as I have explained on two occasions.
I hope that people will continue to manage their own land in ways that are consistent with the importance of the lough and, if sensible discussions need to continue, I am perfectly happy to be involved in them. I ask people, as well as looking at the law, to start looking at the use of the lough. We can combine uses that are economic, recreational and environmental with the protection of the water and the foreshore.