§ Mr. Mackinlay
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what responsibilities his Department has to protect habitats, flora and fauna within the flood plains of the Greater Thames estuary.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
As Minister, I have a duty under the Agriculture Act 1986 to balance the interests of conservation with agricultural efficiency, the socio-economic interests of rural areas and public enjoyment of the countryside. In carrying out my flood defence responsibilities, I am subject to the provisions of the Land Drainage Act 1991, as amended, and the Water Resources Act 1991 so far as the furtherance of conservation is concerned. Finally, I am also bound by the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994 to comply with the requirements of the EC habitats and birds directives.