HC Deb 29 February 1996 vol 272 cc686-7W
26. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action his Department is taking to improve environmental management and wildlife conservation on agricultural land. [16123]

Mr. Boswell

Over the past two years the Ministry has greatly expanded the range of incentives available to promote environmental management and wildlife conservation on farmland. We have launched six new environmentally sensitive areas, making 22 in total covering 10 per cent. of agricultural land in England, and 22 new nitrate sensitive areas, making 32 in all.

We have also introduced several entirely new schemes addressing major environmental priorities such as creating valuable wildlife habitats on farmland, promoting organic farming and improving the condition of heather moorland. In addition, we have announced plans for the future expansion and development of the countryside stewardship scheme when it transfers from the Countryside Commission to MAFF in April at the end of its pilot period. Taken together, these measures represent a substantial commitment to conserving the countryside.