HL Deb 16 March 1982 vol 428 cc639-41WA
Lord Melchett

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware that part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on Halvergate marshes in Norfolk has just been ploughed-up by a farmer who recently bought the land, and whether they will confirm:

  1. (a) that the deed of sale of this land stated that it was an SSSI;
  2. (b) that a voluntary agreement had been reached between the Broads Authority and local farming and land-owning interests that the SSSI on Halvergate would be safeguarded, and that this act of destruction is in clear breach of this voluntary agreement;
  3. (v) that the landowners of the rest of the SSSI have now been notified that the land is in an SSSI by the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act; and
  4. (d) that had they published the Wildlife and Countryside Act's Code of Practice on SSSI's by now, this action by the landowner would have been in breach of the code,
and whether they will state what activities on this SSSI have now been notified by the NCC as being potentially damaging.

The Earl of Avon

The Government are aware that 22 acres of the Halvergate Marshes SSSI have recently been ploughed. The Nature Conservancy Council is closely in touch with the situation.

The other information requested is as follows:

  1. (a) It is not known whether the deed of sale of this land stated that it was an SSSI. However, I am advised that the particulars of sale for the farm gave a clear indication of this and that the NCC confirmed the status of the land to the owner's solicitors in June 1981.
  2. (b) Negotiations are still in progress between the Broads Authority and the local farming and landowning interests on an agreement to preserve the landscape value of approximately 1,100 acres of land at Halvergate. The ploughed land lies within the area under discussion.
  3. (c) All owners and occupiers of land within the SSSI have now been notified by the NCC under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
  4. (d) The code will in this respect merely describe the provisions of the Act. The ploughing would have been a breach of the Act if it had taken place after receipt by the owner of the notification under Section 28.

The activities notified by the NCC as being potentially damaging are as follows:

  1. (1) All forms of cultivation including ploughing, rotavating, harrowing, re-seeding or other direct disturbance of vegetation.
  2. (2) Sowing or introduction of any seed, plant or other vegetation.
  3. (3) Application of any fertilisers or chemicals including both inorganic and organic fertilisers (including livestock slurry and farmyard manure), lime or calcareous material, herbicides or pesticides.
  4. (4) Changes in the grazing régime including changes in type of stock or changes in intensity or in seasonal patterns of grazing.
  5. (5) Any clearance of ditches, dykes, drains or other water-bodies including any new or improved drainage altering the present hydrological régime (including mole, tile, tunnel or other artificial drains).
  6. (6) Mowing or other forms of grass cutting.
  7. (7) Burning.
  8. (8) Artificial irrigation.
  9. (9) Abstration of water from any water bodies
  10. (10) Infilling of ditches, dykes, drains ponds or other water bodies.
  11. (11) Extraction of minerals where a specific planning permission is not required (including peat, shingle and sand).
  12. (12) Removal of turf.
  13. (13) Discharge or dumping of any toxic substance.
  14. (14) Dumping of domestic or other materials.
  15. (15) Any recreational activities causing disturbance to soils, vegetation or wildlife.
  16. (16) Afforestation of open areas.
  17. 641
  18. (17) Clear felling of woodland.
  19. (18) Changes in woodland management practices which could result in major changes in woodland composition by under-planting or selective felling.
  20. (19) The removal of any hedge, tree shrubs or other woody vegetation.