HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc747-8W
Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will consult with the Nature Conservancy Council concerning the potential loss of the Ribble estuary to reclamation and invite it to consider whether it should not invoke its full statutory powers to preserve the site in its existing state;

(2) in the light of the fact that on average one-seventh of the world population of pink-footed geese winter on the Ribble estuary, what steps he is taking, in consultation with the Government of Iceland, where these birds breed, to protect the species from the threat posed to them by agricultural development of their roosting and feeding grounds;

(3) in view of the threat to wildlife and, in particular, many thousands of waders by the possible reclamation of some 6,000 acres of marshland and saltflats at the Ribble estuary, an area of special scientific interest ranked fourth in Europe, what action he intends taking to ensure that this important sanctuary remains undisturbed.

Mr. Denis Howell

The Nature Conservancy Council has kept me closely informed of the threat to the wildlife of the Ribble estuary and its actions to preserve the site. The Council is seeking an agreement with the owner and cannot contemplate invoking its compulsory purchase powers until it has taken all reasonable steps to protect by other means. I have not felt the need to consult the Government of Iceland about the pink-footed geese.

Mr. Faulds

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a compulsory purchase order under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 on the part of the 8,200 acres of marshes on the Ribble estuary which have been designated by the Nature Conservancy Council as a grade 1 site of special scientific interest for wading birds, in view of the impending danger of its reclamation for intensive agriculture following purchase of 5,500 acres of part of the site by a Dutch business man.

Mr. Denis Howell

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and my hon. Friends the Members for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) and Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) on 10th July.—[Vol. 953, c.386–7.]