HC Deb 20 May 1980 vol 985 cc136-7W
Mr. Sims

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what decision has been reached on the grant application of which he has been informed in respect of the reclamation of land at Bowness Common.

Mr. Wiggin

This application for grant under the farm and horticulture development scheme relates to the reclamation of the 100 acres of bog at Bowness Common.

The land forms part of a site of special scientific interest (grade I). It is one of the few remaining examples of a raised mire in this country and is important for its uncommon plant assemblage.

I visited the site with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment earlier this year, in order to discuss the proposals with the farmer and a representative of the Nature Conservancy Council (NCQ. My hon. Friend sought to facilitate an agreed solution for conserving the site but this has unfortunately proved impracticable.

The farmer is understandably anxious for an early decision on his grant application. Taking into account the Minister's obligation under section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968 to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside, including its flora and fauna, the advice of the regional panel who heard the farmer's representations and that of the NCC, as well as the outcome of my visit to the site, I cannot agree to grant aid the drainage of this land.