§ Dr. David Clark
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his policy towards the protection of sites of special scientific interest; and under what circumstances or conditions the Government will authorise the development of sites of special scientific interest which meet the criteria for listing or protection under the Ramsar convention, Berne convention or directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The Government considers that sites of special scientific interest constitute an important part of the national heritage and wish to ensure that as far as possible such sites are protected from damage or destruction and their scientific features conserved.
United Kingdom obligations in relation to sites which meet the criteria for listing or protection under the Ramsar convention, the Berne convention and the EC Birds Directive are met by the site protection measures contained in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In considering proposals for development, the Government ensure that the conservation and wild life interests of the sites are fully explored and are given every consideration alongside other national interests such as economic, social or defence needs. Where after the fullest consideration it is concluded that there are overriding reasons why that development should be permitted, every endeavour is made to ensure that it proceeds in such a way as to minimise the effects on the nature conservation interest of the site concerned.