HC Deb 13 February 1996 vol 271 cc480-1W
Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to designate the Solent's native oyster beds under the biodiversity plan; and what other bi-valve oyster beds and eco-systems in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the EU are of similar ecological importance. [14409]

Mr. Clappison

"Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report", published on 13 December 1995, contains no plans to designate the Solent's native oyster beds. The report does recommend that the native or European oyster,Ostrea edulis, be among 1,253 species whose conservation status should be monitored. The Government expect to publish their response to the report in spring of 1996.

Important native oyster beds are found in the Fal and Helford estuaries, River Tamar, River Lynher, the Crouch, Blackwater, Roach and West Mersea estuaries in England; Loch Ryan in Scotland and Milford Haven and Swansea bay in Wales. In the European Union important native oyster beds include Oosterscheldte in the Netherlands and the north Brittany coast around St. Malo in France.

Mr. Field

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment the National Rivers Authority has made of the advantages of monitoring the Solent under the shellfish waters directive. [14334]

Mr. Clappison

The National Rivers Authority is the competent authority for reporting compliance with and enforcing the shellfish waters directive. It is required to monitor all the areas of the Solent designated under the directive.