§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware of the proposals to develop a new marina and extend an existing marina adversely affecting the Walton Backwaters Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in north east Essex, on what grounds this site was designated an SSSI by the Nature Conservancy Council, whether they Will confirm that these proposed developments would conflict with draft Essex structure plan and whether they will state what proportion of these marshes have already been damaged or destroyed from a nature conservation point of view since 1949 by agricultural reclamation and other changes.
§ The Earl of Avon
I am advised that this Question relates to the Hamford Water SSSI. No proposals as described are at present before my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. The SSSI was notified in 1956 by the then Nature Conservancy, primarily because of its national and international importance for wildfowl and waders. The district council will undoubtedly consider any application in the light of all relevant policies in the Essex structure plan, including those relating to the protection of the countryside, wildlife habitats and the development of water recreation facilities.
In the 25 years since the SSSI was notified about 4.5 per cent. of its area (i.e. about 100 hectares) has been converted to agriculture and other use).