HC Deb 23 February 1995 vol 255 cc476-7
11. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many environmentally sensitive area scheme agreements have now been signed.

Mr. Jack

There are now 5,644 environmentally sensitive area agreements signed, with a further 604 under consideration.

Mr. Rowe

My hon. Friend will know that, among those, is the north Kent marshes environmentally sensitive area. Will he say whether the farmers involved are satisfied with the way that it is developing? Does he feel that the area meets the criteria?

Mr. Jack

The terms under which ESAs are run are always subject to review. As to the north Kent marshes ESA, we have increased the rate of payment for reversion of arable land from £240 per hectare to £270 per hectare. We set ourselves a target that 15 per cent. of the ESA should become arable reversion. Some 83 per cent. of that target has been met. Some 700 hectares of land have now returned to pasture use.