§ Mr. Leslie
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans his Department has to expand on previous guidance on the application of Articles 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive to sites which have been submitted to the European Commission as candidate special areas of conservation under the Habitats Directive and classified as special protection areas under the Birds Directive. 
§ Mr. Meacher
I have today restated our commitment to carrying out our legal obligations to implement the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives and, as part of that process, to contribute to the Natura 2000 network by designating Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and provides further guidance to competent authorities on the application of Articles 6(3) and 6(4). I have given a clearer policy lead to local planning authorities on how issues should be resolved where obligations to review extant planning permissions arise under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 and guiding principles for all competent authorities on what might constitute overriding public interest.
A paper setting out the Government's outline position has been placed in the Library.