HC Deb 19 December 1991 vol 201 c447
15. Mr. Harris

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of the English countryside is covered by environmentally sensitive areas.

Mr. Gummer

Environmentally sensitive areas currently cover 3.7 per cent. of the agricultural land in England. Proposals I announced last month to create 12 new environmentally sensitive areas will more than treble the area covered.

Mr. Harris

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that the fact that so many parts of the country are queueing up for ESA status is a tribute to him and to the usefulness of such areas? When will he announce the extension of existing areas? Will he consider sympathetically inclusion of the Penwith moors in that list?

Mr. Gummer

I hope to announce the extensions soon after we resume after Christmas. I thank my hon. Friend for his compliments. The House should note that the system of environmentally sensitive areas, invented in this country by this Government, is now being copied by almost every other country in the European Community. We are leading in the European Community, rather than allowing others to lead us.