§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the extent within the United Kingdom of the habitats listed in annex 4 to the proposal for a Council directive on the protection of natural and semi-natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora which was issued by the European Commission on 30 March; to what extent the habitats listed in the annex are already covered by notified sites of special scientific interest; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Trippier
We are taking advice from the Nature Conservancy Council as and when necessary on technical matters relating to the proposed EC habitats directive. However, no realistic assessment of the implications for the United Kingdom of the proposed annex 4 can be made until the current confusion over annex 5 (criteria for designation) has been resolved. We continue to press the Commission for clarification on this point.