HC Deb 06 June 1996 vol 278 cc507-8W
Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice he has been given in relation to the creation of a special area of conservation for the vertigo moulinsiana snail in the Kennet and Lambourn valleys. [31363]

Mr. Gummer

[holding answer 5 June 1996]: English Nature, through the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, has formally recommended that eight separate locations in the Kennet and Lambourn valleys be considered as a possible candidate for designation in due course as a special area of conservation under the European directive 92/43/EEC—the habitats directive—following the discovery in the area of large populations of the species Vertigo moulinsiana, Desmoulin's whorl snail. All the relevant survey material has been placed in the Library. The Government have accepted this recommendation and public consultation on this proposal is now under way.

The JNCC has also recommended that parts of the Avon valley appear to qualify for possible designation, subject to more detailed survey work to determine boundaries. If this recommendation is confirmed and accepted, public consultation on a site in this area will be undertaken in due course.

Another possible site, Chilbolton common, on which public consultation has already taken place, is, in the light of recent survey material, not now considered by the JNCC to be of sufficiently high quality to qualify for SAC status and is withdrawn from further consideration.

The recommendation of parts of the Kennet and Lambourn floodplains and part of the Avon valley as possible SACs for this species seems to me to be consistent with the requirements of article 4 and annex III of the habitats directive and with the United Kingdom approach to selection of possible SACs for other habitat types and species. The JNCC's advice is that these two sites would complement the selection of three other sites for this species in East Anglia which have already been submitted as candidate SACS to the European Commission following consultation.

The implications of the JNCC's advice for the Newbury bypass are explained in a separate answer given today to my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir D. Mitchell) by my hon. Friend the Minister for Railways and Roads.

I consider that, subject to the outcome of public consultation, a proposal for five high quality sites would comply with the obligations under the habitats directive to make a contribution to the Natura 2000 network in proportion to the representation within this country of the habitat of the species. The course of action announced today in respect of the safeguarding of Vertigo moulinsiana is also consistent with my general endorsement on 15 May of the biodiversity steering group's report which recommended an action plan for the species.

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