HC Deb 21 November 1995 vol 267 c452
9. Mr. Viggers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many locations have been nominated for consideration as protected sites under the Ramsar convention. [740]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. James Clappison)

The United Kingdom has listed more sites than any other member of the Ramsar convention—95 wetlands of international importance, including three sites in the United Kingdom's dependent territories. The Government are currently considering a further 32 United Kingdom sites, which have been proposed by the statutory conservation agencies.

Mr. Viggers

Is my hon. Friend aware that the local residents of Gosport and Portsmouth were pleased when the Portsmouth harbour area was designated a special protection area for birds and that we are proud to provide a home for so many red-breasted merganser, Brent geese and dunlin? However, the millennium funding of more than £40 million will provide literally one chance in 1,000 years to develop the Portsmouth harbour area. Should it be necessary for the local authorities to ask for some concession at the margins from the Ramsar convention and other environmental regulations, will my hon. Friend consider that request sympathetically?

Mr. Clappison

I shall certainly give careful consideration to any such points and set them alongside the important nature conservation interests represented in Portsmouth. I am sure that my hon. Friend will join me in welcoming the considerable progress and leadership that the United Kingdom has given to the Ramsar convention in this country and elsewhere.