HL Deb 16 December 1986 vol 483 cc98-9

2.38 p.m.

Lord Sandys

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to safeguard the environment of Lundy Island.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Skelmersdale)

My Lords, in answer to my noble friend I am delighted to be able to inform the House that we announced the establishment of the country's first marine nature reserve around Lundy Island on 21st November. The primary purpose of the reserve is to conserve the rich and varied populations of marine wildlife and the habitats on which they depend.

Lord Sandys

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that interesting announcement. Following the announcement made by his right honourable friend in November, can he say whether this reserve has been developed over a period of years, whether there was any indication of this important development, and whether there are to be others?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, in answer to a supplementary question from the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, on 18th July I said that the first marine nature reserve would be announced and confirmed by the end of November, and it has been. Further sites are being processed by the Nature Conservancy Council, which is currently discussing the setting up of further marine nature reserves, and those at Skomer and the Menai Straits are well advanced. I hope that at least one of them will be designated in 1987. Survey work and preliminary discussions are continuing at four other sites—Loch Sween, St. Abb's, Bardsey, and Scilly Islands.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, does the Minister accept that we warmly welcome the announcement about Lundy and are pleased about the progress so far; although we are sorry that it initially took five years for Lundy to be declared a marine nature reserve? Does he foresee any difficulty with that part of the by-laws which does not make it unlawful for any vessel to discharge any substance? The by-laws seemed perfect, but that one rather worried me. Does the Minister foresee any difficulties?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, as I understand it the by-laws are confined to 100 metres of low watermark. I do not see any difficulty with the by-law to which the noble Baroness referred. I am grateful for her expression of approval.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, is the Minister aware that Lundy Island, with its magnificent marine life which the whole House I am sure is pleased to know will be protected, is run entirely by a charity? Can he inform the House what the new measure will cost that charity annually?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, yes, I am aware that the charity referred to by my noble friend is the Landmark Trust. The Nature Conservancy Council by-laws will control dumping as well as damage to plants and animals. Inevitably in such a case some cost will fall on the trust, but I am assured that full discussion took place over this long period—the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, mentioned five years—between the trust and the Nature Conservancy Council.

Lord Kilbracken

My Lords, has any opinion on this matter been expressed by the noble and tearful Lord, Lord Lundy?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I am sorry. The noble Lord—not for the first time—has stumped me.

Forward to